Coronavirus Update: W.Va. Secretary of State Warner looking at options for safe, fair election

By Caity Coyne and Lacie Pierson, Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Public health concerns paired with ensuring a fair and clean election are pushing West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and 55 county clerks to consider measures that election laws don’t consider in great detail.

Three days before Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19, Warner said last week he was ready to take action to make sure the 2020 election cycle is as accessible and safe as possible, within the scope of the law.

As of Monday, there were 57 days left until the state’s May 12 Primary Election, well into the window in which the 1.2 million registered voters in West Virginia may apply for absentee ballots.

On Friday, Warner said his office had made many of its business and election resources available online but that there isn’t much wiggle room in the law when it comes to executing an election during a public health crisis.

“Our current laws right now make it difficult to work with a pandemic-type situation where people are afraid of going to the polls,” Warner said. “Poll workers may be afraid of working at polls and so forth, and that’s the experience we’re hearing about in other states.” …

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