Successful, fair voting requires planning
This year’s election is unusual because COVID-19 has made holding public meetings difficult. For this reason many of us are opting to get absentee ballots. At the same time we are concerned that the Post Office will not handle the election material quickly enough to prevent some of us being disenfranchised by postal delays. But I believe that this election can proceed smoothly with advanced planning by three groups.
Voters: The deadline for voter registration is Oct.13, and the deadline for the receipt of absentee-ballot requests by the County Clerk is Oct. 28. But citizens can register to vote and apply for absentee ballots right now by going to the West Virginia Secretary of State website. The County Clerk will start mailing absentee ballots on Sept. 18 to allow time for voters to fill out and return their ballots in early October.
Early voters need to be informed about candidates especially down-ticket candidates who are not well-known and who have trouble publicizing their positions. So candidates and media must work together to disseminate accurate voting information.
Candidates: Voters will have limited ability to contact you personally. You need to provide a detailed platform and biography on your website and in your mailings. We hope you can participate in virtual candidate halls and interviews in September so that we are ready to vote in early October.
Media like the News and Sentinel, WTAP, and internet platforms: Voters need you to schedule interviews, virtual candidate nights, and questionnaires in late September and just before early voting starts. Your companies will have to allocate more time or space than normal so that you can present candidate positions fairly as media will be the best way for voters to learn about candidates.
If voters wait to the last date to request an absentee ballot, Oct. 28, or the last date to mail their ballots, Nov. 3, the Post Office may not have time to deliver the election materials by the deadlines. If each group schedules their election activities early enough, voters can be informed and return ballots in early October thus ensuring their ballots will be counted.
Candidates, media and voters don’t allow disenfranchisement by postal delays.
I have also submitted this electronically. Again this is without the knowledge or approval of any group with which I am associated.
Judith Gould Peascoe