Early voting

Early voting for the Nov. 3 election began Wednesday across West Virginia. In Fayette County, there are three early voting sites.

Early voting at three locations in Fayette County began on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

Ballots are being cast at the Fayette County Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building in Fayetteville, Montgomery City Hall and the Green Valley United Methodist Church Annex in Danese through Oct. 31. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

The first day of early voting "went very well" in Fayette County, said County Clerk Alicia Treadway.

"The Fayetteville location was very busy," she said. "It was a line out the door all day until 4 o'clock, and we gave waiting permits to the ones that were in line by 4 p.m.

"Montgomery City Hall seemed to have quite a few people and a constant flow all day, and Danese was not as busy but a lot of people came out."

A total of 578 ballots was cast early in Fayette County on Wednesday.

Treadway was unaware of any problems on the first day. "Everybody is practicing social distancing (and) wearing masks because of the executive order the governor put in place," she said.

When voters enter a building, gloves and hand sanitizer are available for everyone. "The workers seem to have adjusted very well, and the voters also."

Anyone with questions can call the county clerk's office at 304-574-4235.

The deadline to request absentee ballots is Oct. 28, and applications must be received by county clerks by that date to be accepted. Through Tuesday, about 3,000 absentee ballots have been sent out in Fayette County for the primary and general elections combined.

On Oct. 20, Secretary of State Mac Warner said that 138,073 statewide absentee ballots had been requested. Of those, 136,562 ballots, or 98.9 percent, had been sent to voters as of Tuesday.

At that time, statewide absentee ballots cast stood at 91,298.

There were 1,268,460 registered voters.

As of Oct. 19, a total of 1,053 eligible West Virginia voters have already cast their ballots in the 2020 general election using the electronic absentee method, Warner said. In West Virginia, electronic voting is limited to active military and overseas voters, as well as voters who have a qualifying disability.

The total includes 921 active military or overseas, and 132 with a physical disability which prevents them from voting in person and voting a paper ballot without assistance.

In 2018, West Virginia was the first state in the nation to make electronic absentee return available via smartphone or tablet to voters covered under UOCAVA, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voters Act. The success of the two election test pilots conducted in 2018 led the West Virginia Legislature to expand the opportunity to voters with certain physical disabilities. The electronic return option is crucial for overseas voters who may be experiencing mail service delays and disruptions as a result of their military assignments and Covid-19, according to Warner. However, voters are still permitted to use the paper absentee, fax or email ballot methods if they prefer.

There is still time for eligible voters to apply and use the option to cast their ballot in the upcoming election. Eligible voters who are interested in using the e-voting option can apply using the Absentee Ballot Application portal at GoVoteWV.com or by submitting a paper application to their county clerk. Military and overseas voters may also use the Federal Post Card Application at FVAP.gov. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Oct. 28, and the application must be received by the county clerk on this date to be accepted. Electronic ballots must be received on Nov. 3 by 7:30 p.m. ET.

The e-voting pilot is a collaboration with the West Virginia Secretary of State, Democracy Live, Tusk Philanthropies and the National Cybersecurity Center.

During early, in-person voting and on election day, voters and election workers are recommended to follow the DHHR's Covid-19 guidance for polling locations and voters.

Warner reminds voters who wish to vote absentee due to concerns of Covid-19 that the absentee ballot application portal at GoVoteWV.com is the most efficient way to request their ballot.

In addition to the portal, voters may also print and mail an application from GoVoteWV.com or call or write their county clerk to request an application form by mail. A directory of county clerks is located online at GoVoteWV.com, or voters may call 304-558-6000 for assistance.

Email: skeenan@register-herald.com or follow on Twitter @gb_scribe

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