Charleston, W.Va. – More than 100 town and city leaders from around the state got an in depth explanation of the proposed Early Vote By Mail Pilot Program Wednesday at the 40th Annual Conference of the West Virginia Municipal League.
State Elections Director Dave Nichols provided an overview of the program, and then answered several questions ranging from ballot security and cost to ballot layout and canvassing.
The agency approved rules are available online at the Secretary of State’s website. The agency approved rule for Phase One, which governs early voting by mail for Class IV municipalities (fewer than 1,000 people), can be viewed here
. The agency approved rules for Phase Two, which governs voting by mail for all other municipalities, can be viewed here
The proposed rules drafted by the Secretary of State’s Office went online for public comment in June. Several public comments were received, and were taken into consideration when Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant and members of her staff revised the rules.
One of the concerns expressed by municipal leaders was decreased voter turnout and increased cost. However, Nichols explained the State of Oregon has been conducting their entire elections by mail and has seen an increase in turnout and decreased cost. Municipal leaders also were concerned about preventing voter fraud, and Nichols explained that the proposed rule provides safeguards to ensure the ballots are legitimate.
The next step for the Vote By Mail Program is to be introduced in the Legislature. The rules will be debated and are subject to revision by lawmakers. If the rules pass as introduced, the earliest a Class IV municipality could conduct early voting by mail would be 2010. The earliest a municipality could conduct voting by mail under Phase Two would be 2011.