Mac Warner on Pandemic election logistics

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – By executive order, Governor Jim Justice has moved the May primary election to June 9 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

First, because of the move the following dates have changed:

  1. May 20 Last day to register or update your voter registration
  2. The early voting period will be from May 27 to June 6
  3. The last day to request an absentee ballot is June 3
  4. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by midnight June 9

On WAJR’s Talk of the Town West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said all registered voters in the state qualify for an absentee ballot, but you must submit the application. Voters are required to declare which party ballot they are applying for, so they receive the correct one.

Warner says county clerks are dealing with an unprecedented amount of applications and preparations for the election.

“County clerks that you come in contact with are extremely busy right now and will be through the election,” Warner said,”Only 2 to 3 percent in typical elections vote absentee, in this election it could be 50 to 60 percent. So, just think about that mountain of mail coming in.”

Warner says once the ballot is received voters should fill it out and send it back to their county clerk to ensure prompt results on election day.

“You can wait all the way up until June 9 to send it in, as long as it’s postmarked by June 9 you’re ok,”Warner said,”But, that’s not going to come into the office for three or four days and then be processed, so we may not have final results for up to a week later. That’s what happened in Wisconsin.”

Couny clerks also have task of planning for voters who will cast a ballot in person in the COVID-19 era. Those plans consider personal protective equipment and in some cases things like face shields or plexiglass barriers between poll workers and voters.

“About 31 barrels of hand sanitizer throughout the state of West Virginia, we could have up to 1 million gloves, we could have 20,000 face masks, chalk and duct tape to mark six-foot intervals on the sidewalk outside the polling place,” Warner said,”All that level of detail is what the clerks are going through for their individual locations.”

Warner stresses this is a unique situation and it should not be confused with voting by mail that is legal in approximately five other states.

“State law requires people to have an application, just this particular situation everybody is eligible for the absentee ballot because of the medical excuse of the coronavirus,” Warner said,”So, we are using the mail, but we are not a vote by mail state.”

Voters should make every effort to complete the ballot on their own, with no help from an agency, group or organization.

“Ballot harvesting, we don’t want that. We don’t want any unrequired assistance- somebody may say come on down to the union hall, lets call you to the church, lets make sure everybody gets their ballot filled out properly,” Warner said,”That’s unnecessary assistance. So, if that sort of thing is going on or any other nefarious activity that you don’t feel comfortable with report it.”

Reports can be made by calling 877-FRAUD WV or email