Charleston, W.Va. — Just 50 days before the November 3 General Election, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner is requesting organizations sharing election information to proceed with caution to prevent the spread of misinformation on voting processes and options. This request lands on the heels of concerns with recent misinformation and incomplete information provided to the public by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) of WV, which could confuse and mislead voters.
According to Warner, late last week the USPS sent a postcard to every household and P.O. Box in WV, which suggested a different date than the legal deadline for WV voters to apply for an absentee ballot. After receiving negative feedback from several states, the USPS was forced to issue additional clarification to the state election officials. Click here to read the letter.
This week, Warner and his team were forced to address misinformation and incomplete information provided by the ACLU-WV regarding the absentee voting options for the 2020 General Election.
Despite the current success of the absentee ballot process now in place, on September 11, an ACLU-WV representative told the Public News Service that "for the first time in the state’s election history, voters need to access the voting application through an online portal to receive one by mail, or go to a county clerk’s office in person[.]"
Warner said that ACLU-WV’s statements could mislead the public with incorrect and incomplete information. The various options for voters to request an absentee ballot have remained unchanged since 2001. Under the law, voters can request an absentee ballot from their county clerk over the phone, email, regular mail, or fax. Voters with access to a computer and printer have the option of printing and mailing an absentee ballot application to their county clerk.
Citing national concerns over USPS delays and the after action report from the Primary Election, Warner says voters with access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet have an additional online application option that reduces opportunities for delays in the delivery of absentee ballots to all voters. However, the online portal is just one of many improvements in the administrative process that helps accomplish that goal, and it is not the only method to apply for an absentee ballot beyond in-person requests as the ACLU-WV representative stated.
"The ACLU knows that WV voters have had the same absentee ballot application options for nearly two decades," Warner said. "We have also communicated extensively with ACLU-WV on the additional online absentee application option for voters. To suggest that the only way a voter can request an absentee ballot is to go online or visit the county clerk in person is inaccurate, and will lead to disenfranchising voters if left unaddressed."
Warner said his office wrote a letter to ACLU-WV regarding the misinformation and inaccuracies in the article, warning that failure to issue a correction is misleading and will cause confusion for the voters.
“My office has always maintained a professional working relationship with advocacy organizations. I am hopeful this unfortunate situation will be resolved immediately so the voters are correctly informed, and so that we may all focus on holding a safe, secure and fair election,” said Warner.
To learn more about absentee voting in West Virginia, visit GoVoteWV.com.