EDITORIAL: Vote, but not at the ballot box

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Associated Press | Morry Gash

A worker hands out disinfectant wipes and pens as voters line up outside Riverside High School for Wisconsin’s primary election Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in Milwaukee.

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Secretary of State Mac Warner recently said via a Facebook livestream with gubernatorial candidate Stephen Smith that voting this year in West Virginia should be easier than ever before, and residents should take advantage of this privilege.

“It has never been easier to vote in West Virginia,” Warner said. “You have more options than ever before. Whatever you feel comfortable with, make yourself at home. Your ballot box can be as close as your mailbox if you want.”

Warner and Smith urged residents to vote from home to avoid breaking social distancing guidelines recommended by the CDC and health experts around the world.

“Health and safety must come first,” Warner said.

Given the unlikeliness that social distancing recommendations from health experts will be relaxed before Election Day, and although precincts will remain open for those who wish to vote in person, everyone who is capable should take necessary steps to vote from home.

In other states such as Florida and Wisconsin, where voting occurred primarily in person, both poll workers and voters have since tested positive for coronavirus.

In West Virginia, we are lucky to have government officials dedicated to following the recommendations of health experts in these unprecedented, trying times, and we should do all we can to avoid a situation such as the ones in those states.

Vote from home if you are capable. Voting in person and breaking social distancing recommendations endangers not only yourself, but everyone, especially the most vulnerable amongst us.

Primary elections for president, governor, state House and Senate and various other public offices will occur statewide Tuesday, June 9, but due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, all West Virginians may vote from home beginning May 27 until June 6.

The deadline to register to vote is May 19, and all residents may register to vote online via the secretary of state’s website at govotewv.com.

During the livestream over the weekend, Warner said all 1.2 million registered voters in the state have been sent an absentee ballot application which they should already have received.

Individuals who fill out an application and send it to their county clerk, which can be done through mail, e-mail or in person, should expect to receive their absentee ballot by the end of April.

Copies of the ballot application and a list of county clerks and contact information also can be found on the secretary of state’s website.

Anyone who has any questions or concerns about voting via absentee ballot may go to the secretary of state’s website or call his office at (304) 558-6000.