Morgantown, W.Va. – West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said Thursday morning that the Vote By Mail pilot program planned for Morgantown’s municipal election is safe, secure, and cost effective.
Tennant and Elections Division Manager David Nichols appeared on WAJR-AM in Morgantown along with city officials to discuss the plan, set to take effect for the city’s upcoming election in April.
In this program, the city clerk would mail a ballot to every registered Morgantown voter no less than 14 days before Election Day. Voters will have the opportunity to vote the ballot at their convenience and then mail the envelope back to the city clerk.
Voters also have the option of dropping their ballots into secure ballot boxes that will be positioned around the city or at the city clerk’s office.
Similar to absentee ballots, voters would place their voted ballot into an envelope that has the voter’s precinct number on it and then place that envelope into the mailing envelope and sign across the seal. Two envelopes guarantee secrecy of the ballot. All ballots are opened and counted on Election Day.
“It has been my approach to find ways to be more cost efficient and still have open, fair, and accessible elections," Tennant said. "This program is a perfect fit. You’re getting encouragement from the city, the willingness, and the initiative from the city to want to do this. The success of the program in Morgantown will really determine how we proceed with the vote by mail program.”
Tennant and Nichols have also attended Morgantown City Council meetings to discuss the plan. For now, Morgantown is the only city in West Virginia that will be participating in the Vote By Mail Pilot Program.
The Secretary of State’s Office will also assist the city clerk’s office in voter education through radio ads and television and newspaper stories.
Monongalia County also took part in the Online Voting Pilot Program for military and overseas citizens. That program gave overseas voters the option to cast their ballot using a secure online server.
After the municipal election Morgantown will file a report with the Secretary of State’s Office that details voter participation and how much money was saved.