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Warner’s plan a bust?

If a public official wanted to suppress the vote in November, what would he do? We may have the answer right in front of us.

Secretary of State (SOS) Mac Warner has changed the rules on absentee voting for November.

The coronavirus epidemic is worse now than in the spring, so most voters I know expected to receive their absentee ballot application in the mail. That’s how it worked for the primary. That change was challenging for county clerks, but they persevered. Ultimately, the system used for the primary worked. That success and experience for voters and clerks created a foundation to build on for November.

Instead, the SOS hatched a new plan for November. Absentee applications will not be mailed to all voters. The SOS is launching a brand-new Internet portal for each voter to apply for their absentee ballot.

This new plan has one enormous problem. Among all states, West Virginia ranks near the bottom in terms of Internet coverage. In other words, the new portal will be unavailable to who-knows-how-many voters. Assuming they want to be safe, and they somehow learn the rules have changed, voters without portal access must contact their county clerks’ offices directly — by phone, email, or fax — to request absentee ballot applications. All this in the name of greater efficiency. Seriously? Efficiency for whom?

The 2020 primary, with absentee ballot applications mailed to all voters, was a success: 50% of voters safely cast absentee ballots, a gigantic increase over typical elections.

Voting in November should be just as easy. Yet, SOS Warner’s new plan does the opposite. It makes ballots less accessible and will disenfranchise many voters. Or, it will force people to risk their health by in-person voting.

Who benefits? Certainly not the voters of West Virginia.

Judy Ball

Morgantown

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