POINT PLEASANT — As with many public officials, Mason County Clerk Diana Cromley and her staff have been tasked to deal with issues surrounding the coronavirus and still serve the public, including during the upcoming primary election slated for May 12.
As reported by the Associated Press (AP), on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mac Warner said his office will “ramp up” the state’s absentee ballot system to allow people who are worried about getting the virus to cast their votes by mail in the May primary.
Like Warner, Cromley said she encourages voters who wish to do so, to request an absentee ballot as soon as possible. Cromley explained voters could request an absentee ballot by visiting the secretary of state’s website or visiting her office during newly updated office hours, or call her office at 304-675-1997. Absentee applications will also be left near the entrance to the Mason County Courthouse on the first floor. The application to request an absentee ballot has to be in Cromley’s office by the close of business May 6, as she only has a small window of time to mail out those requested ballots to voters. The actual ballots must be postmarked by May 12, election day.
As also reported by the AP, Warner’s announcement comes after a legal opinion from Attorney General Patrick Morrisey that found absentee balloting can be broadened during a state of emergency.
“Our legal opinion has the potential to provide expanded opportunities for citizens to vote safely during this unprecedented public health emergency, while protecting the integrity of the primary election,” Morrisey said.
Cromley, like many county clerks across the state, are also facing complications from the COVID-19 virus as it pertains to poll workers. Many poll workers fall into a population which can be most at risk from the virus – the elderly. Due to obvious health concerns, there will be a need for younger poll workers and/or those at lower risk concerning complications from the virus. Those interested in stepping up to be a poll worker should contact Cromley’s office. Poll workers are paid for working on election day.
Cromley is also developing a contingency plan to use alternate sites or temporary sites if the typical polling places have closed due to concerns over the virus. That plan also includes being prepared to keep those polling locations as sanitary and clean as possible to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We need to be wise but we need to let people fulfill their right to vote,” Cromley said. “Whatever we have to do to make this election happen, we will do.”
The clerk’s office has also created temporary operation policies to help control the spread of coronavirus.
The office will operate in the follow ways:
Limitation of public — only two customers will be permitted in the clerk’s office at one time.
Copies — copies of land records, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage license, estate records, etc. can be requested by mail, fax, email or by calling the office.
Marriages — all couples wishing to apply for a marriage license must call ahead for an appointment.
Estates — all individual wishing to probate an estate or discuss all estate matters must call ahead for an appointment.
Recordings — those wishing to record documents may call ahead to have the recordings picked up at the main entrance to the courthouse or they can mail them.
Abstractors — abstractors, Surveyors, Genealogists and all other wishing to do research in our record room must call ahead.
Elections — individuals wishing to register to vote or change registration information may call and request an application to be mailed to them or they may register online at: https://ovr.sos.wv.gov/Register/Landing
Individuals desiring an absentee ballot by mail may call us, email their request or visit this site to download an application: https://sos.wv.gov/elections/Pages/AbsenteeVotingInformation.aspx
Hunting and Fishing — Hunting and/or fishing licenses may be obtained online by visiting the WV Division of Natural Resources: https://www.wvhunt.com/
Beth Sergent contributed to this article.