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West Virginia

West Virginia made good progress in expanding access in 2020, and there are a wide variety of issue areas in which West Virginia has opportunities to improve voter access and continue on the progress made in 2020, the most urgent being removing the “excuse” requirement for mail ballots permanently. These improvements will bring West Virginia one step closer to a more safe, efficient, and voter-friendly election process. As always, while policy is important, effective implementation is just as important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

West Virginia should continue its enormous progress in expanding mail voting. By passing legislation to make no-excuse absentee voting permanent, West Virginia can give its citizens the opportunity to vote in whichever manner they find safest and most convenient.
West Virginia can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by expanding its permanent absentee option, where voters can sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply, to all voters. States experience significant savings with these lists; on average, states save $1 for every request they no longer need to process.
Offering secure drop boxes as another method for voters to return ballots are a cost-effective way to reduce strain on the postal system, and are sometimes a preferred method by voters who want an extra bit of reassurance that their ballot makes it to the elections office on time. We highly recommend including provisions to allow for ballots to be received at polling places, vote centers, and drop boxes, as well as other locations deemed necessary by the clerk.
We highly recommend creating vote centers, or polling locations where any voter in the county can vote. This is a way to streamline the system so over time, as the share of the vote cast by mail increases, counties can have fewer overall polling locations, while individual voters will have more voting location options.
West Virginia can increase voter confidence by allowing voters to track their ballot much like an Amazon package by improving its current ballot tracking system. Advanced ballot tracking systems can proactively notify voters when their ballot takes a new step in the path from being sent to them to finally being counted (or rejected). If a ballot is rejected, these ballot tracking tools can be used as another method to contact voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope.
In the event that a voter’s ballot is rejected, said voter should have the ability to cure any issues with their ballot quickly and simply. As more voters use absentee ballots and, understandably, the number of rejected absentee ballots increases, we recommend implementing a Text2Cure system that allows voters to cure their ballots from their phones.
Processing mail ballots to get them ready for counting before election day helps states get faster election results and gives more time for voters to cure any errors. Preliminary data also suggests that preprocessing helps avoid any blue or red shifts when there are differences in the partisan lean of mail vs. in person ballots, which could increase voter confidence in the results of elections.
Processing mail ballots to get them ready for counting before election day will help Alabama get faster election results. Preliminary data also suggests that preprocessing helps avoid any blue or red shifts when there are differences in the partisan lean of mail vs. in person ballots, which could increase voter confidence in the results of elections.

Recent Legislation

As of May 24, 2021

In response to the pandemic, West Virginia’s Secretary of State acted quickly to allow voters to vote by mail. The Secretary sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters for the summer primary and used emergency authority to allow all voters to vote by absentee ballot due to fear of COVID. Unfortunately, this policy of not requiring an excuse expired after the 2020 election. Additionally, the legislature passed SB 94 to expand ballot return options for some voters with physical disabilities or in the military. While many new laws were proposed to improve the mail voting system in 2021, none passed.