In case you haven’t noticed, West Virginia has an election coming up. People who live for politics tend to hype every election as being the most important in our lifetimes. This one probably isn’t, but that doesn’t diminish its importance.
If you’ve voted already, good. If you plan to vote by absentee ballot or in person, go0d. If you’re thinking about not voting, please reconsider.
This primary election isn’t life or death, but it will say a great deal about the future of the Mountain State. Consider what is at stake.
Gov. Jim Justice is fighting for his political life. He was elected as a Democrat, spent his first legislative session insulting the Republican leadership, then switched sides and became a Republican himself. Now he is challenged by others within his party. If Justice loses, he will be a lame duck for the last six months of his term.
The Democratic side has a set of challengers who are fighting over the philosophical future of the state party.
Then there’s the Legislature. All 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up, as are half the 34 seats in the State Senate. Both houses have been under Republican control for a few years following six decades of Democratic control. Do voters want to stay the course, or do they want to go back to the old ways?
Then there’s the state Supreme Court of Appeals. Three of the five seats on the court will be decided in this election. One seat is to fill an unexpired term, while the other two are for full 12-year terms. Are you satisfied with the current ideological direction of the court, or does it need to be changed? It’s your call. Your decision will have long-lasting effects.
At the federal level, all three of West Virginia’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up. This could be the last election in which West Virginia has three seats in the House. If present trends hold, the state will lose one following this year’s census.
Side note: That’s another reason to fill out your census form if you haven’t already. West Virginia’s influence with the White House and the federal bureaucracy depends on an accurate census count. Not filling out your form is in effect sabotaging efforts to help the state.
On a local level, census results will be used to redistrict seats in both houses of the Legislature. If you’re not counted, your community will carry less clout at the Capitol than it should have.
Back to the election: The primary is only a few days away. It was postponed from May 12 to June 9 because of concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic. Because of those concerns, every registered voter is permitted to cast an absentee ballot in the primary. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is June 3. Early voting in person will be done May 27 through June 6 at county courthouses. You will need to comply with local security and health protocols to do that.
Or you can vote at your precinct as normal on Election Day itself.
This may not be the most important election in the history of the world, but for this state, it will be an important one that could determine the direction of government for a decade.
The deadline to register to vote has passed, so if you haven’t registered, you’ve lost your voice.
If you don’t care, then don’t vote. If you do care and if you haven’t voted already, please do.