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Logan County Clerk John Turner holds up a West Virginia absentee ballot application while explaining the early voting process during the Logan County Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting on Monday.

LOGAN — Early voting for the 2020 general election in West Virginia begins Wednesday, Oct. 21, and Logan County residents will have similar options to the primary season.

Early voting will be again held inside the Logan County Commission building at 325 Stratton St. in downtown Logan. Although early voting has traditionally been held inside the county courthouse, the change was made during primary season to better ensure social distancing precautions in the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

Early voting will be held from Wednesday, Oct. 21, through Saturday, Oct. 31. During that time, voters may cast their ballots from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Mask wearing is recommended, and hand sanitizer will be available on site. Q-tips will also be available to prevent physical touching of the voting machine screens, although the screens will be cleaned and sanitized after each use.

Unlike in previous election cycles, any voter may also request an absentee ballot this year if they feel uncomfortable with voting in person. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Wednesday, Oct. 28, which is the latest day one can be mailed, according to Logan County Clerk John Turner.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Absentee ballots postmarked before or on that date will be accepted.

Turner says the Logan County Clerk’s Office has, so far, processed around 1,200 absentee ballot applications, and around 700 have been returned. During the primary season, around 1,600 absentee ballots were received.

That’s a massive increase from a typical election year in which absentee ballots are permitted only for special reasons.

“The most since I’ve been here in my 14 years has been like 162,” Turner said, “but I’m thankful for the new voting equipment we have, and we just can scan them in. Before, we’d have to go in and select on each one of them. That would have taken a lot of time.”

Turner said absentee voting is a secure process and that common social media posts promoting conspiracy theories against voting by mail are “nonsense.” One, for example, says someone can fraudulently mark your ballot.

“That’s not true,” Turner said. “It won’t accept it. That’s the way it’s set up, it’s programmed just for those candidates. You can’t write your name on there, you can’t do anything. You can do a write-in on there, but you cannot write on that ballot. It does not happen. It does not work that way.

“We’re locked and loaded and ready to go,” Turner said. “I just encourage people to get out and vote. Early voting is convenient — free parking, so that’s up to them, or go to the polls on Election Day.”

HD Media news reporter Dylan Vidovich can be contacted via email at dvidovich@HDMediaLLC.com.