CHARLESTON — With the deadline to register to vote just a week away and a new voter identification law on the books, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner's staff is working to get residents registered and informed for the upcoming primary election.
Warner said April 17 is the last day to register to vote for West Virginia's May 8 primary election. Early voting starts April 25 and continues through May 5.
Anyone wishing to register to vote can do so at their county clerk's office or online at ovr.sos.wv.gov.
Warner said voters should also remember to bring a form of identification to the polls. As of Jan.1, 2018, voters must show a form of identification to vote in person during the early voting period or on Election Day in any election, with a few exceptions. Any ID shown for voting purposes must be valid and not expired.
WVSOS Chief of State Chuck Flannery, communications director Mike Queen and election division officials are leading the effort to get information to the voters about registration, voter ID, early voting, other election issues and the election deadlines.
The WVSOS office is working with county clerks and other groups to get information to the public. Residents with questions can contact their local county clerk or call the WVSOS at 304-558-6000.
Flannery and Queen said the easiest way to get information about the election or voting might be visiting the WVSOS website: https://sos.wv.gov and click on the election tab: https://sos.wv.gov/elections/Pages/default.aspx
Residents can register to vote and/or update their information — such as a new address — online: https://ovr.sos.wv.gov/Register/Landing
The WVSOS has been working to distribute information on the state's new voter ID law for months.
Queen said the biggest concern for the WVSOS office was ensuring no voter "is disenfranchised."
No one will be turned away at the polls, Queen said, noting there are many ways to comply with the new voter ID requirements and, in the worst case, voters can file a provisional ballot, in which case the voter's ID will be verified before the election canvass.
The WVSOS' Donald 'Deke' Kersey explained the new rules on West Virginia Press Insight, the state newspaper industry's weekly legislative video program: https://youtu.be/MyF9HVDcADM
To find information on Voter ID requirements, visit https://sos.wv.gov/elections/Documents/VOTER%20ID%20RACK%20CARD.pdf
Voters can check their registration and polling place by visiting https://services.sos.wv.gov/Elections/Voter/FindMyPollingPlace
WVSOS officials noted that an "inactive" status does not mean the resident can't vote, it just shows the voter has not voted in recent elections. The status will change to "active" once the resident votes in an election.
To see the list of candidates for the May 8 West Virginia primary election, visit: https://sos.wv.gov/elections/Documents/2018%20Primary%20Certified%20List%20of%20Candidates%20UPDATED%203.12.18.pdf
To see the State Senate and House of Delegate districts, visit State Senate, http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Districts/maps.cfm, and House of Delegates, http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Districts/maps.cfm#HD01
For assistance or answers to other questions, call 304-558-6000 or visit the WVSOS State Capitol office in Suite 157-K, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. East, Charleston, West Virginia 25305-0770. Office hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Residents can also email questions by visiting the website at https://sos.wv.gov/Pages/contact-elections.aspx
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In Fayette County, Clerk Kelvin Holliday reminds voters that Election Day is Tuesday, May 8. Normal election day hours of 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. will be observed at the county's 39 precincts.
Early voting will occur from April 25 to May 5. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the two Saturdays in that time frame. Locations will be the Fayette County Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building in Fayetteville, the Danese Community Building and Montgomery City Hall.
Holliday said Fayette County currently has about 28,000 registered voters. It's not too late for unregistered individuals of voting age to become official and vote in the primary. Voter registration will be accepted if postmarked by April 17 or completed in person at the county clerk's office or online with the secretary of state's office by that date.
Holliday noted the following precinct changes:
• Voting for precincts 9 and 13, which formerly occurred at the Scout Cabin and Collins Middle School, will take place at the SALS Historic Oak Hill School in Oak Hill.
• Voting for precinct 42 in the Robson/Beards Fork area, which formerly occurred at the volunteer fire department, will now be at the Christian Revival Center located beside the fire department.
Fayette County voters will vote using a new ExpressVote touch-screen system beginning with this primary election cycle, Holliday and registrar Alicia Treadway point out. Treadway was slated to stage a training session for poll workers Tuesday in Fayetteville. Poll workers are still needed and welcome, according to the clerk's office.
Absentee voters will still utilize the optical scan system.
The new system will increase overall efficiency, according to Holliday and Treadway.
Votes will be tabulated on-site at nearly 30 precincts, while the others will be tabulated in Fayetteville. The new site for election night activities will be the Fayette County Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building. Holliday said vote totals will be revealed in five-precinct increments as in the past.
For more on the new voting system, as well as a brief look at some of the individual races in the off-year election, see The Fayette Tribune next week.
(Steve Keenan contributed to this report.)