Planning to Vote by Mail? Here’s What You Need to Know

As you probably know, all West Virginia voters have the option of voting absentee due to concerns about COVID-19. This is the safest option because you can vote from home. However, despite our efforts to make the process consistent with the primary, for the general election registered voters in most counties won’t be mailed an absentee ballot application.

As things currently stand, here are your options for requesting an absentee ballot.

1). Request a ballot online using the Secretary of State’s absentee ballot application portal. While this is a welcome option for those voters who are able to use it, many voters in WV are not able to access it or are just not comfortable using it. Those voters can do one of the following:

2). Call or email your county clerk and ask them to mail an application to you; OR

3). Download and print an application and return it to your county clerk by mail or email.

At this point, only voters in Lincoln and Ohio counties will be mailed absentee ballot applications. But there’s still time for the Governor and Secretary of State to get this right and order election officials to mail absentee ballot applications to all eligible voters. With the threat of COVID-19 greater than it was in June, and at a time when USPS is under attack and mail delivery may be delayed, the Governor also could authorize the use of drop boxes to allow voters to hand deliver their ballots without putting themselves, county clerks and their staffs at risk.

That’s where you come in.

Demand Governor Jim Justice and Secretary of State Mac Warner to protect our health and our right to vote safely by taking action on these two issues:

  • Mailing Absentee Ballot Applications – A county by county decision on this issue does not guarantee the benefit of an application to every registered voter regardless of where they live and their ability to access or use the online portal. Absentee ballot applications should be sent to all registered voters as was done for the primary election. Contact the Governor and the Secretary of State and tell them that their constituents deserve to have the same chance to vote safely in November as they had in June.
  • Drop Boxes for Ballot Delivery – At the same time as elections officials are projecting—and seeing—an increase in the number of voters choosing to vote absentee, internal policy changes within the USPS have led to delays in mail delivery that may result in absentee ballots not being delivered on time. The Secretary of State’s office has determined that the use of drop boxes don’t comply with the allowable delivery methods for absentee ballots. However the Governor could issue an executive order authorizing the use of secure drop boxes. Voters shouldn’t have to rely on the USPS or go into the Court House during working hours to make sure their absentee ballot arrives on time.

Please contact the Governor and Secretary of State now to ensure that our democracy can function during this pandemic.

Governor Jim Justice – call (304) 558-2000 or email 

Secretary of State Mac Warner – call (304) 558-6000 or email

Want to do more? Please contact your legislators and commissioners and ask them to advocate for their constituents on these issues and ensure we can safely vote by mail in November. 

Thanks for doing your part in the fight for a democracy that works for all of us. 



Julie Archer
Coordinator, WV Citizens for Clean Elections

Important Election Dates and Deadlines

  • September 18, 2020 – County clerks will begin mailing out Absentee Ballots.
  • October 13, 2020 – Voter Registration Deadline
  • October 21 – October 31, 2020 – Early Voting at the county courthouse, annex or designated community voting location during normal business hours and Saturdays 9AM to 5PM.
  • October 28, 2020 – Deadline for Absentee Ballot Requests. Absentee ballot applications received after October 28, even if postmarked, cannot be accepted by law. (Note: In a letter to the Secretary of State, the General Counsel for the USPS recommended voters submit their request early enough to be received 15 days before the election (October 19). The letter also recommended voters mail their completed ballots a week before the state’s due date.)
  • November 2, 2020 – Deadline to hand-deliver Absentee Ballot to County Clerk’s office. Choose this option if you don’t want to use the mail to return your ballot. (Note: No person may hand deliver more than two absentee ballots and any person hand delivering an absentee ballot is required to certify that he or she has not examined or altered the ballot(s).)
  • November 3, 2020 – General Election Day
  • November 4, 2020 – Absentee Ballots mailed, but without a postmark accepted.
  • November 9, 2020 – (Canvass) – Absentee Ballot postmarked by Election Day accepted if received by start of Canvass.

For more voting information visit


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  1. I called the Secretary of State’s office and learned that WV Code does not permit drop boxes. This is particularly problematic for Jefferson County citizens, since our mail is shipped out of state to Harrisburg, Pa. for sorting. This really slows things down.

    1. Thanks, Regina for reaching out to them. It important that they hear from folks on these issues. I understand their reading of the code but I believe it is subject to other interpretation. The Secretary of State’s office has determined that (except in limited circumstances where access to the courthouse it restricted due to the coronavirus) the use of drop boxes doesn’t comply with the allowable delivery methods for absentee ballots. As a result, some counties that had drop boxes at courthouses in the primary won’t have them for the General Election. However, the Governor could suspend potential conflicting code provisions to allow their use. We also encourage folks to contact their legislators and county commissioners on these issues. Thanks again!

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