BUCKHANNON – Early voting for the West Virginia Primary Election got underway this Wednesday, May 27 and continues through Saturday June 6, giving voters 10 days – including two Saturdays – to come out and cast their ballots.
As of Friday evening, Upshur County residents have seven days left to vote early in person at the Upshur County Courthouse.
Upshur County Clerk Carol J. Smith said early voting is available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 30 and Saturday, June 6 at the Upshur County Courthouse.
Smith said early voting this year has been relatively slow compared to early voting periods in years past.
“Honestly, it’s not been as busy as it has been in past years for early voting. The first day we voted 91, yesterday we had 97 voters and today, Friday May 29, we had nearly 90 voters come in to cast their ballots,” Smith said. “Normally, we would have had between 250 and 300 residents coming to vote each day. It’s been kind of slow compared to what it usually is, but people are still coming out to vote.”
There’s one important point Smith wanted to stress: Voters who received their absentee-by-mail ballots but later decided they would would rather vote in person are still allowed to vote in person. However, they must bring the absentee ballot that was mailed to them to the courthouse so it can be ‘spoiled’ or invalidated.
“For anyone who has received but has not returned their absentee ballot who wants to vote in person, that is allowed,” she said. “However, they need to bring their absentee ballot along with them when they come to vote in person so we may spoil the absentee ballot. We will give them a new ballot so they may vote in person.”
This year during early voting, Smith’s office has set out two cones in front of the courthouse to mark off parking spaces for older folks coming in to vote.
“We have marked two places off right in front of the alley,” she said. “We are trying to keep those spots open for older folks to park.”
Smith said as part of reopening the Upshur County Courthouse with the lingering threat of COVID-19, the Upshur County Commission has set up protocol so people entering the facility will have their temperature tested.
“If their temperature is less than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, they can come in,” Smith said. “They will be offered a mask, and there are gloves out front. Because everyone is touching the stylist, we are asking voters to wear gloves. We have nitrile gloves we are handing out, and they are easy to get on and get off.”
She said early voting takes place in the Upshur County Courthouse, and residents wishing to vote should go up the steps to the courthouse.
“Once you walk in, there is security and they will take the person’s temperature and get their masks,” Smith said. “Early voting is right there. There is a wheelchair lift adjacent to the stairs folks can use.”
Residents who vote early in person will receive the ever-popular ‘I Voted’ stickers and may keep the pencils they use to make their selections, Smith said.
As far as absentee ballots go, Smith said there were approximately 4,250 people who mailed in applications for absentee ballots, which were then mailed out to the voters. She said so far, about 2,700 of the absentee ballots have been returned.
“Those sending their absentee ballots back must be postmarked no later than Election Day, which is June 9. Anyone dropping absentee ballots off in person needs to do so no later than the day before the Primary Election (June 8),” Smith said.
The Primary Election will take place June 9, 2020 and voters will be able to vote in their regular precinct locations on that day if they do not choose to participate in early voting or absentee voting. Voting hours that day are set for 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
“Some of the precincts will be combined,” Smith explained. “At Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, there are four precincts that vote there, and they have been combined so there are two precincts. There are combined precincts at Buckhannon Academy School, French Creek Elementary, Union Elementary and Hodgesville Elementary.”
Smith explained when the precincts are combined, voters still go to their individual precinct clerks, but said the ‘shared part’ will be there is only one person starting the ballots, and two people taking in the ballots. She said the precincts will have their own counts, but this will allow for poll workers to collaborate.
Smith said she could still use some alternate poll workers for the elections, but she noted all of the main positions have been filled.
Anyone having questions or needing additional information about the election and voting can call the Upshur County Clerk’s Office at 304-472-1068. Updates are posted to the Upshur County Clerk’s website at http://www.upshurcounty.org/government/county_clerk.php.
For general Primary Election information, please visit the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Elections Division website by clicking here.