Charleston, W. Va. – Secretary of State Mac Warner announced Friday a Voter Accessibility & Election Protection Campaign with sights set on the June 9 Primary. The campaign puts a laser focus on increased efforts by election officials and law enforcement to ensure fair and fraud-free elections throughout the State of West Virginia.
The six-week campaign has dual objectives: to ensure a safe election with easy voter access to a ballot, and at the same time, to deter election fraud.
To protect the health and safety of the general public, voters, and poll workers, election officials have conducted extensive planning for clean surroundings and social distancing at the polls. While in-person voting is available during early voting May 27 to June 6 and on election day June 9, everyone is eligible to vote absentee if they so wish. The options to vote in this election have never been more robust in West Virginia.
The second goal of the campaign is to work cooperatively with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to identify, deter, and investigate election fraud.
The public education portion of the Voter Accessibility & Election Protection Campaign will consist of a series of public messages, social media posts, and emails. Warner’s office will work with county clerks, the WV Press Association, the WV Broadcasters Association, and local media outlets to get the information to voters in all 55 counties.
By now, all 1.2 million registered voters have been mailed an application to vote absentee in the June 9 Primary Election. Applications must be filled out in the voter’s own hand-writing and sent back to the county clerk. Clerks will then mail the absentee ballots to the voters. To be counted, absentee ballots must be postmarked by June 9.
To deter fraud, Warner’s office is ramping up efforts with local, state, and federal law enforcement to discover and investigate election wrongdoing. “West Virginia has a checkered past with election fraud,” Warner said, “and there will be no tolerance for misuse of the absentee process this election.”
“We need your help,” Warner asked of all citizens. “This is an extraordinary time in American history, and there can be no intimidation, unwarranted assistance, or other undue pressure on people to coerce a vote.
“We want every voter to know that we are providing as many options as possible for citizens to vote safely in the upcoming election. You can vote in person, or you can vote absentee. Overseas, military and some citizens with disabilities are permitted to vote electronically, if they choose. One size does not fit all, but we have an option for every voter.”
The improper use of absentee ballots that led to the prosecution of elected officials in various parts of West Virginia in the past gives rise to concerns this election. Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in both the Northern and Southern Districts of West Virginia announced a partnership with Warner’s office to deter and quickly investigate complaints of election fraud in the state.