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CHARLESTON — In response to the declaration of a state of emergency due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Secretary of State Mac Warner has encouraged West Virginians to take advantage of absentee by mail and early voting options ahead of the May 12 primary election.

Warner announced last week that voters who do not wish to vote in person due to the current health crisis are eligible to request an absentee ballot by mail. According to a March 19 press release from Warner's office, voters may still vote in person during early voting from April 29 to May 9, and on Election Day, which is May 12.

How to request an absentee ballot (in order of preference):

1. Obtain the West Virginia absentee ballot application:

• Download and print the application from the secretary of state's website; or

• Call or email your county clerk to request the application be mailed to you; or

• Visit your county clerk's office to pick up the application (only where courthouse visitation is allowed).

2. Fill out the application in your own handwriting

Note: Make sure to check the first box for “Illness, injury or other medical reason which keeps me confined” in Section 4 of the application

3. Return the application to your county clerk by:

• Mail; or

• Email; or

• Fax; or

• In-person (only as allowed).

County clerks must receive applications by May 6.

Regarding voting for the May primary, Fayette County officials encourage individuals to contact the voters division of the county clerk's office at 304-574-4235 to request an absentee ballot, or go online. This will assist in limiting exposure for the voting public, as well as poll workers and clerk's employees.

Fayette County Clerk Alicia Treadway says her office is preparing for a high volume of absentee ballot requests.

She reminds potential voters if they are requesting absentee ballots and if they are registered as a non-partisan or an independent voter, they must specify on the application the party ballot on which they want to cast their votes. If they do not specify, voters will receive a non-partisan ballot featuring only races for board of education, magistrates and judges.

As of Monday, March 23, the Fayette County Courthouse is closed. Treadway reminds people to call or go online for the forms, then mail them in as directed for processing.

Voter registration applications can be submitted online, as well. The clerk's office will then process and mail.

Treadway is airing Facebook live videos with information updates as the election run-up continues.

Voters may only apply and vote absentee in the county where they live. To make sure your registration is up-to-date, click “Check Your Voter Registration Record” at GoVoteWV.com.

Registered voters may request absentee ballots from now until May 6. The deadline to register to vote for the primary election is April 21 and can be completed at GoVoteWV.com.

Absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before election day and received by the start of canvass, or hand-delivered the day before the election (May 11).

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