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Absentee ballot applications deadline set for June 3

If history, including last week, is any guide, critical decisions regarding our futures as West Virginians may be made in a few weeks by as little as one-fifth of the state’s electorate. There still is time to avoid that.

Our primary election had been scheduled for May 12. Concern over COVID-19 prompted a change to June 9.

Even then, some voters may be reluctant to go to polling places. With that in mind, the mail-in absentee ballot system has been amended to permit virtually any registered voter to cast a ballot by that method. If you have not already received an absentee ballot application in the mail, contact your county clerk (or, in Ohio County, the election office).

Steps taken to cope with the coronavirus should permit any Mountain State voter who desires to participate in the primary election to do so.

But a similar system was used in Ohio for that state’s primary, officially held last Wednesday. Results were dismal. Only about 23% of Buckeye State registered voters participated. That was about half the rate for the previous presidential primary, in 2016.

But here in West Virginia, just 39.9% of registered voters cast ballots in the 2016 primary — despite the fact there was some excitement over who would win the Republican nomination for president.

If turnout rates here mirror the Ohio experience, only about 20% of registered voters will cast ballots for the June 9 primary. The number could be even lower, given the fact that both the Republican and Democrat nominees for president have been all but decided.

But local and state matters are more important in many ways than the presidential election. Nominees for the Legislature and both chambers of the U.S. Congress will be decided June 9.

Even more important, nonpartisan judicial elections for posts ranging from magistrates up to state Supreme Court justices, will be part of June 9 balloting. Winners that day will take office — as will winners of county board of education races.

Do you want a say in how justice is administered? How public schools are run? Then you should plan to vote in the primary.

We encourage — nay, urge — you to do so. Don’t put it off; the deadline for absentee ballot applications to be received is June 3. Completed ballots must be returned by hand by June 8 or postmarked by June 9.

Get it done, unless you want 20% of registered voters — actually, fewer than one in seven people who live in West Virginia — making important decisions for you.

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