POINT PLEASANT — Every register voter in West Virginia will have the option to vote by absentee ballot because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Mason County Clerk Diana Cromley said voters will be receiving a postcard through the mail in the next couple weeks with instructions on how to complete their ballot. The postcard will also include an application to receive the absentee ballot.
Cromley said the application needs to be mailed to the county clerk’s office by May 6, but encourages people to send it as soon as possible. The absentee ballots need to be postmarked by May 12, when the primary election is scheduled.
“I encourage every voter to do this so we will not encounter lines on election day, nor early voting long lines,” Cromley said. “I’m not sure how we’re going to do the election yet, because, on one hand, they’re saying we can’t be together. On the other hand, they’re saying ‘let’s all get together and vote.’ So that’s still being determined how that’s going to come down. But if every voter would vote absentee, it’s going to eliminate long longs at election day.”
Cromley said everyone will have the opportunity to vote in the privacy of their own home.
“Some people are concerned that it’s not secret — that we would know how they vote,” Cromley said. “We send you two envelopes … You fill out one of them with your information. The other envelop is a blank envelope that you put your ballot in.”
Cromley said the envelopes with the ballots are placed in a box and opened one at a time to be counted and the clerk office employees do not know how people vote.
In a typical year, absentee ballots are only granted if a person meets the requirements — such as a physical reason, immobility, illness that confines a person to home, or being out of town for business or school. This year, no voter will be denied an absentee ballot.
As of now, the in-person primary election is still scheduled.
“It’s very concerning to me how I am going to train 180 poll workers to go out at all these precincts only two weeks after the president says that it’s safe to go out,” Cromley said. “And that could get extended.”
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Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.