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Early Voting

Voters have chance to cast ballots now

Urging West Virginians to use the early voting process is straightforward in most years. But this is as far from being the typical election cycle most people remember.

In-person early voting began today at courthouses throughout the state. It will proceed through Saturday, June 6. Early voting polling sites will be open weekdays during normal business hours and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. this Saturday and next.

Many people use the early voting system because they prefer to cast ballots in person, rather than through the mail-in absentee process, but worry that unforeseen circumstances may keep them away from the polls on Election Day.

Well, this year’s primary election cycle certainly can be described as unforeseen. State officials reacted to the coronavirus epidemic by postponing the election, which had been scheduled for May. They also have made it easier to use absentee ballots, eliminating the requirement to vote in person entirely. Many Mountain State voters have chosen to do that.

Some officials expect a large turnout on June 9. A significant percentage of voters still prefer going to a polling place.

Making use of early voting could eliminate inconvenience such as having to wait in line at your polling place on Election Day. And, it eliminates the potential for something happening at work or in your personal life that keeps you from casting a ballot on June 9.

COVID-19 remains a concern, however. Some worry that social distancing and sanitizing surfaces may be a challenge at polling places — though both local and state officials have taken effective steps to keep people safe while they vote.

So, if you like in-person voting, the question comes down to whether a few extra days between the end of early voting on June 6 and Election Day on June 9 will mean you are likely to encounter fewer carriers of the coronavirus.

Our impression is that the difference in risk will be minimal, given steps being taken at early voting stations. If that seems to you to be the case, we encourage your to go to your courthouse and make use of early voting. Get it done, and don’t worry about potential surprises on June 9.

Whatever your outlook, however, find some way to cast a ballot. Voting is important. Don’t let the virus keep you from doing so.

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