It’s almost time to vote in West Virginia. The coronavirus pandemic has upset the normal rhythm of the primary election season to the point that processes of voting and counting votes has changed.
Here’s how it works in West Virginia:
If you are a registered voter, you should have received a postcard from your county clerk by now asking if you would like to vote an absentee ballot on the June 9 primary election.
If you’ve not received a card, you can request an absentee ballot if you would rather not vote early at the courthouse or vote in person at your regular polling place. You can request an absentee ballot from your county clerk or by downloading an application at govotewv.com.
County clerks began mailing absentee ballots on April 24.
Jennifer Gardner, deputy press secretary for Secretary of State Mac Warner, said election officials hope people will return their ballots soon after receiving them.
“We hope that people don’t keep ballots hanging around their houses,” she said.
County clerks will accept hand delivery of absentee ballots until June 8.
If people would rather vote in person, early voting will be available at courthouses from May 27 through June 6 and at the regular polling places on June 9.
County election officials will begin processing absentee ballots as soon as they are received, but they will not be counted until Election Day, Gardner said. Ballots received by mail after June 9 will be processed and counted before the canvass begins on June 15.
Because election officials expect a high volume of voting by mail, many races could be too close to call until the canvass is done, Gardner said.
What all this means is that election night will lack the certainty of past years. The next day’s mail could play a deciding role in some races.
Some people trust wide-scale absentee voting. Some don’t. But absentee voting could become the norm in West Virginia depending on how many people want to avoid polling places for fear of being infected with the coronavirus.
This is the process for voting. If you want to have a say in national, state and local government, this is how you do it. These are the deadlines and the processes. Plan now and act accordingly.