Charleston, W.Va. — Secretary of State Mac Warner says that a recent nationwide postcard mailer sent by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) – offering suggestions for planning ahead to vote absentee – highlights the need for voters to be aware of West Virginia-specific deadlines to ensure ballots arrive on time.
While some West Virginia residents have already received the USPS postcard, according to the Postal Service, all residential addresses and P.O. Boxes in West Virginia should receive the mailing by Sept. 15.
According to Warner, the USPS postcard mailer does not provide all important WV election deadlines. Rather, the postcard suggests that voters should plan ahead to get their election materials to the USPS to ensure on-time delivery. Warner said that he believes the USPS mailer was well-intended, but there is an inaccurate reference to a suggested mailing deadline, which could confuse some voters.
For the 2020 General Election, the last day WV voters can request an absentee ballot is Oct. 28. However, the USPS asks for voters to mail the absentee request 15 days in advance to ensure delivery to the county clerk and to give time for voters to complete their ballot.
The postcard also recommends for absentee voters to mail their absentee ballot seven days before Election Day. However, WV voters can mail their ballots at any time, including on Election Day, so long as the envelope is postmarked on that day. The USPS recommends mailing sooner, but WV law does not require it.
There are many options for voters to request an absentee ballot if they choose not to vote in person. Voters may request a ballot online at GoVoteWV.com, by printing an application and mailing it to their county clerk, or calling or emailing their county clerk to request an application be mailed to their address.
The important message from the USPS is for voters to plan and take action early to the extent possible. Warner said, “Know your options and make a plan early. Know your in-person options to early vote or to vote at your polling location. If voting absentee is preferred, take early action to request an absentee ballot and submit it as soon as you are informed on the candidates. Be ready to cast your ballot ahead of the deadlines and consider the suggestions from the USPS to mail it early to ensure delivery.”
"We want to work with the Postal Service and their efforts for educating voters on the use of the mail to cast a ballot, and others who want to communicate with voters in an effort to increase voter participation. But the opposite occurs when incomplete or inaccurate information confuses voters. No one wants that to happen," Warner said.
Warner again invites any organization, candidate, or political action committee to obtain election information from trusted sources at GoVoteWV.com or the county clerks prior to communicating with voters on deadlines relative to West Virginia election law.
To date, over 60,000 West Virginia voters have requested to vote by absentee ballot. More than 30,000 of the absentee ballot requests were submitted online, which eliminates the USPS from the application process completely. County clerks will begin mailing absentee ballots on Sept. 18.
To learn more about absentee ballot voting in West Virginia, visit GoVoteWV.com.