WV Legislators call for primary election vote by mail

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – West Virginia Senate and House Members called on Governor Justice to declare the 2020 primary election a Vote by Mail (VBM) only election. “We must take every commonsense precaution to ensure the certainty and safety of our upcoming primary election,” said Senator Doug Facemire (D-Braxton). “We must follow the instructions of our public health professionals and use social distancing to keep the virus from spreading or rebounding,” he said.  In just the past few days, West Virginia’s County Clerks asked Governor Justice to endorse a VBM primary election for everyone’s health and safety and to secure a fair election.

“Utah, Washington, Hawaii, Oregon and Colorado already have had numerous vote-by-mail elections with no voter fraud issues,” explained Delegate Evan Hansen (D-Monongalia). “Most of these states rank near the top in voter turnout and have time-tested procedures that West Virginia can copy to ensure the security of every vote. It’s simple and secure. Every voter gets a secure ballot in the mail and sends it back with a postmark by the date of the election. There is even federal money available to help with the costs,” he confirmed.

Delegate Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia) agreed. “It’s pretty hard to argue with Oregon Secretary of State Beverly Clarno, a Republican, who repeatedly has said that Oregon’s vote by mail [VBM] system is secure and that Oregon voters love it. She described Oregon’s VBM system to reporter Mark Budryk of The Hill as a ‘20-year success story.’”

The legislators noted that county poll workers mostly are at-risk seniors who should not be asked to risk exposure to hundreds if not thousands of the voting public. Voters should not be forced to crowd into often tight locations or wait in large lines. Anyone who touches a surface touched by someone who is COVID-19 positive risks infection. Counties will be forced to reduce the number of voting locations, in some counties by as much as 90%, which will result in overcrowded polling locations. Harrison County Clerk Susan Thomas announced a reduction in the number of voting locations from 67 to 7. “It will be inconvenient and crowded, but we just don’t have enough poll workers who can risk getting the virus,” she said.

“You can’t say you’re putting the safety of the public first, then offer voters overcrowded polling places or require them to mail an application for a ballot. We’re sending mixed messages,” said Delegate Andrew Robinson (D-Kanawha). Senator William Ihlenfeld (D-Ohio) added that, “The smart decision is to make it as easy as possible to vote safely by voting exclusively by mail. West Virginia has the most vulnerable population in the nation and our poll workers are among the most vulnerable. Let’s do the right thing and stop playing politics with the health of our state.”

West Virginia’s Democrat legislators called on Governor Justice, Secretary of State Warner, and the leadership in the House and Senate to join in a bipartisan call to make the 2020 primary election exclusively vote by mail. It is time to put the health and safety of West Virginians first. Every registered voter should get a ballot in the mail to vote in this primary election.

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