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Blaney clears up confusion on absentee ballot requests

Monongalia County Clerk Carye Blaney is looking to clear up any confusion and head off potential frustration for voters as her office processes more than 12,000 absentee ballot requests.

In response to COVID-19, the state ruled every voter is eligible to vote absentee in the primary election, which was pushed from May 12 to June 9.

Blaney said the cutoff to request an absentee ballot is June 3. The ballots must be returned by Election Day.

If you want your absentee ballot included in official Election Day results you must return the absentee ballot.

Blaney said she fears some voters requested absentee ballots but are waiting to see what the situation regarding COVID-19 is closer to the start of early voting, which runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 27 through June 6.

“We want to remind our voters, because they’ve requested so many absentee ballots, that they do need to return that absentee ballot through the mail. If they show up to early voting, they’ll be asked to vote provisional because they’ll already be in the system as having received a ballot by mail,” Blaney said, adding “We’ve paid the postage to return it to us. That will eliminate pressure and stress on our poll workers and support staff for early voting and Election Day.”

Blaney said absentee ballots remain sealed until processed on Election Day. At that point a team of representatives from multiple political parties will separate the inner envelope containing the ballot from the outer envelope, which includes voter information.

“At no time is any particular person’s vote known because there is a chain that maintains your ballot with your vote on it is not ever with your return ballot information that has your voter information on it,” Blaney said. “It is all done by teams of separate political parties and processed through the same scanners we process our early voting ballots through — but nothing will be counted until 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, the same as early voting.”

She said early voting is essentially in-person absentee voting and noted a tendency to confuse absentee ballots with provisional ballots — which must be taken up individually during the post-election canvas due to questions about a voter’s eligibility.

Canvassing, the process through which election results are certified, will begin on June 15 and will likely take more than one day to complete.

Blaney will conduct a public test of the county’s voting equipment at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the county’s election headquarters, in the old Morgantown Mall.

Monongalia County Commission President Ed Hawkins said the commission is thankful for all the work Blaney and her staff are doing to assist the county’s voters.

“We really appreciate all your efforts that go into this election process, especially considering what has been transpiring,” he said.

For additional election information, including early voting and precinct locations, visit

Tuesday, May 19, is the last day to register to vote for the June 9 primary. There are several ways to register.

You can register online at the secretary of state’s website,, or at the county clerk’s office. In Monongalia County, it’s In Preston, it’s Just follow the voter registration link on their respective home pages.

Gov. Jim Justice hopes as many people as possible will vote in-person at the polling places, but he and Secretary of State Mac Warner have also worked to make it possible for those still affected by or concerned about the coronavirus to vote absentee.

Absentee ballot applications can be obtained at the websites above. Residents can also register to vote and obtain absentee ballots in person at a clerk’s office.

Voters participating in the 2020 Primary Election for the first time since registering in their county, are required by law to include a government document that provides the voter’s (1) name, and (2) address with their absentee ballot.

If one of the following forms of ID is not provided, the ballot must be made provisional by the county upon receipt and considered by the board of canvassers at time of canvass. The statutory forms of ID: current and valid photo ID; copy of a current utility bill; bank statement; government check copy; paycheck stub; any other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.

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