Dave Mistich Published

Warner: More Than 22,000 Absentee Ballots Requested In First Week


State elections officials say more than 22,000 West Virginians have so far requested absentee ballots for November’s general election. 

In a Tuesday news release, Secretary of State Mac Warner said that more than 15,000 voters have used an online portal launched last week to request an absentee ballot. He said more than 7,348 additional ballots were requested by mail or in person at a county clerk’s office.

“We are pleased with the large interest in the new online portal,” Warner said. “Voters wanting to cast their ballot absentee now have a secure opportunity to request their ballot online, which increases efficiency and reduces potential delays presented by paper applications.”

All registered voters are able to use concerns over the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to request an absentee ballot, which are expected to start going in the mail to voters on Sept. 18. 

Mail-in and absentee voting have become highly politicized issues in recent months, with President Donald Trump saying mail-in voting could lead to fraud and turn into a catastrophe. Elections experts say those claims are without merit. 

Warner’s online absentee ballot application portal is a change in the process from the state’s last election. For West Virginia’s June primary, all registered voters were automatically mailed an application for an absentee ballot. Roughly half of all ballots cast in the 2020 primary were absentee. 

The decision to change the process has been criticized by voting rights groups as well as Democrat Natalie Tennant, who is challenging Warner for the office on the November ticket.