Mon County Clerk confident in county’s absentee ballot system

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Despite concerns about the receiving and sending out of absentee ballots on a national level, the same level of concerns don’t appear to be as prevalent for local officials.

As discussions continue nationwide over the safety of your ballot ahead of the 2020 Presidential Election, the Monongalia County Clerk’s Office is reassuring voters that on a local level, your vote is safe. Regardless on potential issues coming from the COVID-19 pandemic or the rise of absentee ballots, there appears to be safeguards to protect Mon County’s vote.

“I don’t in Monongalia County,” said Monongalia County Clerk Carye Blaney about absentee voting concerns. “Because we are very fortunate, we have a processing sorting facility right here in our county, and a very good relationship with our postal service team,” she said.

According to Blaney, the process of getting Monongalia County voters absentee ballots is fairly simple. If a vote requests an absentee ballot, the Clerk’s Office confirms where the vote is getting mailed to and then the voter submits the ballot back free of charge. Once the ballot is resent by the voter, they can then check the progress of the vote so that there is some mental ease about where it is going and it’s status.

“When we receive that back in the mail, we enter the date that we receive it into the system,” Blaney explained on MetroNews Talkline. “So that the voter has the comfortability that ‘okay, the county has received my ballot,’ and there’s nothing the voter needs to do at that point,” she said.

Once the filled out ballot is sent back by the voter, the ballot will then be sent directly to the vote processing facility in Monongalia County with the participation of the local post offices according to Blaney. There, all absentee votes will be accounted for and reported to state officials which will then report them under the state numbers when released on Election Day. This process, allows all absentee ballots to never leave Mon County and ensure a unique level of vote security.

“We have them sorted, so that all of the ballots that are staying in the 265 area right here in Monongalia County, never leaves Monongalia County,” said Blaney. “They are not sent on to the Pittsburgh processing plant,” she said.

During the 2020 Primary Election, similar concerns about the handling of absentee ballots were discussed in the weeks heading in. According to Blaney, the County Clerk’s Office processed over 14,000 absentee votes, well over the 1,200 to 1,500 vote count during a typical presidential election. With the COVID-19 pandemic not expected to be over by election day and with a state with an older population, those numbers are expected to be the same. Regardless, the Mon County Clerk’s Office is assuring Mon County voters that their vote will be safe.

“The voters have a very high level of confidence in our absentee balloting system, our ability to handle that high volume” said Blaney. “And they’re comfortable in the fact that they know that their ballot if returned by election day will be in those unofficial results,” she said.