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Possible dispute looming over November absentee ballots in WV

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – This spring, 1.2 million West Virginia voters were mailed an application to receive an absentee ballot. If you didn’t want to go to the polls, all you had to do was sign it, mail it back then wait for your absentee ballot to come in the mail.

There was concern in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic that in-person primary voting at polling places would be too risky. But the former secretary of state who is running to get her job back is worried the same process won’t be used for the November election because the initial invitations to vote absentee might be scrapped.

“And that’s just an injustice because we know the voters in West Virginia embraced this idea of having an application sent to us, filling it out, getting a ballot and sending it back. More than 250,000 voters used that process,” said Natalie Tennant, (D) Nominee for Secretary of State.

A spokesman for Secretary of State Mac Warner counters no final decision has been made. But some county clerks said the mail-out invitations were time-consuming, expensive and inefficient.

“I absolutely don’t want that,” Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick said. “I would rather for everybody to call us and we’ll send them an application. Because we had 14,000 that was returned undeliverable.”

The mail-in ballot process cost West Virginia at least $1.2 million, not including what each individual county spent. But those expenses can be reimbursed under the federal CARES Act for COVID-19 relief.

“Secretary of State Mac Warner was in conferences all day and was not available for comment. But a staff member said the absentee voting guidelines for November, should be released by the end of this week,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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