If you are worried about catching COVID-19 (yes, this qualifies as a reason), or have a physical reason you cannot vote in person, voting by mail (i.e. absentee voting) is your best option. The main issue with voting by mail is whether or not the U.S. Postal Service will deliver your ballot in time to be counted. And that is why it is imperative that you start this multi-step process now! A second, large issue, is whether or not your ballot will be rejected due to a signature mismatch. If it is, the state does NOT have to notify you of the rejection, so be careful when you sign. According to the county clerk, however, a contested signature should show up as a provisional ballot, and that should be visible on the ballot tracking website. See the links page (at the top) for information on the best ways to vote in WV (and other states), according to SLATE magazine.
There are some definite advantages to voting by mail:
- You can start the process online: links to online and printable applications.
- Once you get the application, you have time to do careful internet searches on any candidate/issue you are not familiar with before marking your ballot.
- No lines to wait in, no mask required. You can vote from the comfort of your own home.
- You’ve got until Election Day (in theory, but maybe not in practice) to return your ballot to the post office. Or…
- You can hand deliver your ballot to the county clerk (Eric Strite, Clerk’s Office, City Hall, Romney, WV). This is perhaps the best way to return your ballot, if you can.
- You could have a friend hand deliver your ballot (though no individual may deliver more than two ballots by hand to the county clerk).
- If you decide to put your ballot in the US mail, if you can get to the Romney post office, hand deliver the ballot to the person behind the counter and tell him/her it’s local mail (in case it’s not obvious). That way your ballot won’t first go to Baltimore!
But if you fear not getting your ballot in time, or that your ballot will be rejected due to a mismatched signature, your next best option is to vote early.