KEYSER - Mineral County clerk Lauren EllifritzI has released the following information in response to many questions that continue to surround the upcoming primary election.

The election was moved by Governor Justice from May 12, 2020, to June 9, 2020. Early voting will begin next Wednesday, May 27, 2020, and end on Saturday, June 6, 2020.

Sample ballots are available in the county clerk’s office and at the West Virginia Secretary of State website under Elections at the link listed here:

“As the County Election Official, I am encouraging voters to consider voting by mail, which is called absentee voting,” Ellifritz says. “This option was approved on a state level to ensure all voters will have the opportunity to vote safely and securely.

“There are some individuals spreading false information on social media to discourage voters from voting by mail. The absentee process is very simple and secure. You will complete an application to request a ballot be mailed to you and this must be completed by the voter. Once we receive the application, we mail a ballot to your home.

“You vote your ballot and hand deliver it to the courthouse before election day or place it in the mail postmarked on or before election day.

“Once the County Clerk’s Office receives the ballot, the envelope is date stamped and the ballot (still sealed in the envelope) is placed in a ballot box. All ballots and the ballot box are stored in a vault which requires two employees to gain access. At no time is any one individual alone with the ballots.

“The courthouse is under security surveillance, so rest assured your ballot is safe and secure. The envelopes will not be opened until election day, at which time we separate the secrecy envelope from the outer envelope to ensure voter privacy.”

Since mid-April, the clerk’s Office has already mailed 2,989 absentee ballots.

According to Ellifritz, “There are several reasons we had to delay sending some ballots, such as no signature, address changes, incomplete request forms and party ballot selections.

“We have been working on these issues as fast as we can, even though we had no phones for four days last week. If you had submitted a request and have not received your ballot you should contact the clerk’s office to confirm we have received your request or what the delay may be.

“I have had several calls from voters who had requested and received a ballot by mail and are now wanting to go to the polls on Election Day. Know that if you choose to do this, you will have to vote a provisional ballot. The poll workers will have to spoil your ballot, which will require additional papers to be completed before a new ballot is issued.

“As for those that still wish to early vote in person or wait and vote on Election Day, please realize this pandemic will not be gone. There will be restrictions and possible alterations for polling locations. Should you choose to vote in person rather than vote by mail, you must be prepared to wait in long lines for an extended amount of time.

“The poll workers are only allowed to let one or two voters in the room depending on the size of the location. The pandemic may limit the number of poll workers available, as some cannot work this election for the safety of their family or themselves due to COVID-19.

“Items will have to be disinfected between voters and all of this will be done with less workers and the possibility of merged precincts. Your precinct may be moved that very morning depending on the number of poll workers we have.

“This pandemic has affected all aspects of life and this election is no exception. We have all made adjustments and this is just one of many. With this in mind you still have time to request to vote by mail.

“Mineral County will strive to ensure that this election is properly maintained and secure and that each voter is able to cast their ballot. We appreciate your patience during this trying time.

“If you have any questions regarding the election, please call the county clerk’s office at 304-788-3924, Monday- Friday 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.