- Special Counsel
As West Virginia cautiously begins the reopening process, attention is starting to turn towards the state’s primary election, which is approximately one month away. With 2020 being a presidential election, there will be a number of high profile races on the ballot this year. Aside from the race for president, West Virginians will vote this year for governor and all other statewide officers on the Board of Public Works, three West Virginia Supreme Court Justices, all members of the House of Delegates and half of the State Senate, in addition to various county and local elections.
With West Virginia now operating under a “safer at home” order, it appears that many of those ballots will likely be cast through the state’s expanded absentee ballot process. Earlier this year, steps were taken to allow all West Virginians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to vote by absentee ballot for the upcoming primary election. Secretary of State Mac Warner reports that county clerks have received more than 181,000 requests for absentee ballots to date – more than 1/3 of the total primary ballots cast during the 2016 Presidential Primary Election!
West Virginians interested in obtaining an absentee ballot for the primary election still have time to do so, as applications can be submitted to county clerks up until Wednesday, June 3rd. Any and all absentee ballots must be postmarked and returned by the June 9th election date.
Other important, revised deadlines to consider for the upcoming primary election are as follows:
- May 19 – Deadline to register to vote
- May 27 – In-person early voting begins
- June 6 – Last day to early vote in-person
- June 9 – Polls open for in-person voting at 6:30am and close at 7:30pm.
For those preferring to cast an in-person ballot, county clerks will be maintaining the polls with appropriate social distancing and safety measures in place. Those with questions regarding any in-person voting restrictions can check out the Secretary of State’s COVID-19 resources page.
One final change voters can expect to see this upcoming primary election is a difference in the reporting of election results. While many are accustomed to watching polling precinct numbers trickle in on election night, vote counting for the 2020 primary election will be a more time-consuming process. The large number of absentee ballots expected to be cast won’t actually start to be counted until the polls close at 7:30pm on June 9th. As such, West Virginians can expect many of the official election results to take longer than in typical years