Eric Douglas Published

Registration Deadline Passes For Candidates In 2022 Primary Election

Absentee Ballot, Voting, Mail-In Ballot, Mail-In, Election

The deadline to file candidacy papers in West Virginia’s May 10 Primary Election passed at midnight on Jan. 29.

A total of 491 people registered with the Secretary of State’s office for elections to the House of Delegates, the state senate races, judicial races and the two seats in Congress. Another 1782 people registered with County Clerks for county level races and seats on the party executive committees. That accounts for a total 2261 candidates.

It is possible the final number may change slightly. Candidates who mailed their registration forms may still be eligible if those forms are postmarked by Jan. 29. Candidates may also choose to withdraw their names before the ballots are prepared.

Registration is slightly lower than in 2018 — the comparable non-presidential election. In that election there were 2480 candidates. A total of 13 candidates, including the three incumbents, filed for the two seats in Congress. Secretary of State Mac Warner said he thought there were several reasons for that level of interest.

One is that we lost a congressional seat. So there’s really no true incumbent,” Warner said. “We actually have three significant incumbents that have been there before. I guess some folks are looking at it as an open seat. That may have drawn some folks in.”

The next deadline in the election cycle is March 25, when county clerks will begin sending out absentee ballots. Warner cautions that voters will need to have an excuse to receive an absentee ballot, according to state law.

“If you want an absentee ballot, you have to apply for it,” Warner said. “And you have to have a reason for it. The 2018 election is the best analogy prior to COVID. The legislature changes the laws, we’re still operating under that you have to have a reason or an excuse. It has to be one of those on the ballot application.”

Those reasons include:

  • Illness, injury or other medical reason (includes confinement due to COVID-19) 
  • Disability or advanced age 
  • Incarceration or home detention (does not include individuals convicted of any felony, treason, or election bribery) 
  • Work hours and distance from county seat 
  • Inaccessible early voting site and polling place 
  • Personal or business travel
  • Attendance at college or other place of education or training
  • Temporary residence outside of the county
  • Service as an elected or appointed state or federal official

Changes in the 2020 election that made it easier for everyone to request an absentee ballot were temporary based on Gov. Jim Justice’s stay at home order because of the coronavirus pandemic. Since that order has been lifted, absentee ballots revert back to state election law. Any changes to that process would have to come through the legislature.

Warner said the next key date is April 19. That’s the last date you can register to vote, or change or update your registration or change parties.

Teens who will turn 18 before the General Election on Nov. 9 can register to vote by April 19 and can vote in the Primary Election.