Charleston, W.Va. — In the last West Virginia presidential primary, fewer than 6,700 registered voters participated by absentee ballot. However, over the past three months, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, election officials throughout the state have worked together to educate voters on the safe absentee-by-mail option. Based on record absentee turnout numbers, the public education strategy proved successful.
According to WV Secretary of State Mac Warner, as of the close of business on June 4, a total of 262,441 voters had applied for an absentee ballot. Of those, 191,346 had already returned their completed ballots. Absentee voters in this primary election make up about 15.6% of the state's registered voters.
A county breakdown of absentee voters is below.
"West Virginia offers voters more options to cast a ballot than any other state in the nation," Warner said. "Working with our county clerks, we are making sure that every option is safe and secure."
The deadline to request an absentee ballot was Wednesday, June 3.
Warner said the focus now shifts to encouraging absentee voters to return their ballots. Ballots may be hand-delivered to county clerks by Monday, June 8, or mailed with a postmark by June 9. To be counted, absentee ballots must be received by the county clerk by start of canvass on June 15.
Warner said the Secretary of State's Office and county clerks are now working together to encourage voters who did not vote by absentee to vote in-person during early voting, which ends at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 6, or in-person on Election Day, June 9. A list of early voting locations for each county can be found at GoVoteWV.com.
"We want voters to know that casting a ballot in-person will be safe and secure," Warner said. "Counties have received guidance on how to disinfect polling locations, sanitize equipment, and properly run in-person voting. With state and federal health officials recommending social distancing, voters should anticipate lines that may appear long – though wait times should not be increased."
“With record numbers of people exercising absentee and early voting options, we do not anticipate long wait times at polls. We also recommend voters wear a mask to protect others if they choose to do so."
Some counties implemented local public health and safety procedures for in-person voting. Voters should call their county clerk for more information. A county clerk directory is located at GoVoteWV.com.