Absentee Ballots must be requested by Oct. 28

Suzette Lowe
County Clerk Cheryl Bright is ready to mail out any requests for absentee ballots.

If any registered voter in West Virginia wants to avoid going to a busy polling place in the Nov. 3 general election, an absentee ballot can be cast.

Unlike the primary election, cards informing all voters of the absentee option will not be mailed by the county clerk. Anyone who wishes an absentee ballot must request one from Aug. 11 through Oct. 28. The latter date is the last day ballots will be mailed out.

Jackson County Clerk Cheryl Bright said her office mailed out over 19,000 cards in the primary election. A total of 4,379 absentee ballots were cast.

“In a typical non-COVID year, we have about 100 to 150 absentees,” she said.

According to Bright, an application can be obtained in a number of ways.

The internet portal GoVoteWV.com, set up by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, has a link to the form. Bright also said the county clerk’s website, jacksoncountyclerk.wv.com also has a link to the portal.

Another option is to call, email or stop by the county clerk’s office. The office is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and may be reached by phone at 304-373-2250. Email requests can be sent to cheryl.bright@jacksoncountywv.com.

In the primary election, which was moved from May 12 to June 9 due to COVID-19, voters only had to check the box indicating COVID was the reason for voting absentee. The Secretary of State reported that 49.9 percent of all votes cast were absentee.

The new application simply requires a voter to choose “illness, injury or other medical reason which keep me confined.”

Bright said it will be a few weeks until the ballots themselves are mailed.

“We won’t receive those until Sept. 18,” she said. “I do encourage those who are thinking about absentee voting to go ahead and send in their applications.”

Addressing any concerns voters might have, Bright says it all comes down to trust.

“You have to have confidence in your clerk’s office and the voting process,” she said. “When we get the ballots, they are locked up and not touched until allowed. When tabulation begins, a team of people of opposite parties are involved. This is not a new concept. Absentee voting has been in place for years.”

The last day to register to vote in the general election is Oct. 13. Early voting will be from Oct. 21 through Oct. 31.