Update: 11/2/20: More than 136,00 West Virginia absentee general election ballots have been returned as of Monday morning, according to data from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office. Around 11% of requested ballots have not been returned. 

The ballot must be postmarked by Tuesday or hand-delivered to the county clerk’s office by Monday, the day before Election Day. First-time voters must send a copy of a valid ID along with an absentee ballot.

What happens if you changed your mind and want to vote in person after requesting and receiving an absentee ballot? Bring that ballot to the polling place on Election Day, according to a Secretary of State’s office fact sheet. That ballot will be “spoiled” by a poll worker, and you’ll be allowed to vote.

If you don’t bring your ballot with you to your polling place, you’ll be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. If the county clerk doesn’t receive your absentee ballot during the canvassing period, they’ll count your in-person vote.

The Secretary of State’s office recommended that those who do not receive their absentee ballot within a few days of placing the application in the mail call their county clerk. 

The deadline to request an absentee ballot has already passed.

Original post: It’s election season, and due to expanded absentee voting, West Virginians have been voting for weeks. If you still haven’t cast a ballot, here’s what you need to know — from who’s eligible to who’s on the ballot to what to expect if you’re voting in-person this year.

Who can vote? 

West Virginia residents who are U.S. citizens and are 18 years or older are eligible to vote. The registration deadline has passed for this year, but you can check your voter registration status here.

West Virginians who are incarcerated on non-felony charges are eligible to vote. You’re also able to vote if you have been charged with a crime, but not convicted. If you’ve been convicted of a felony you’re eligible to vote once you have served your time, as well as completed parole and probation. You are, however, required to re-register.

Read more: Some formerly incarcerated West Virginians can’t vote. Others can, but may not know it.

How to vote:

If you want to vote early in-person:

Early voting begins Wednesday, Oct. 21 and goes through Saturday, Oct. 31. Every county has at least one location, and some have several. Click here for a list of locations and times.

If you want to vote absentee:

In this year’s General Election, unlike in other years, all West Virginia registered voters are eligible to vote absentee for “medical reason” due to concerns about COVID-19.

However, West Virginia county clerks have changed the process they used in the primary for the general election: they aren’t mailing out ballot applications to all registered voters. 

Read more: Absentee ballots could keep voters safe this year. They may be out of reach for some West Virginians.

You can request your ballot by email, fax, U.S. mail or in-person. You can also go here to use the state’s online portal to request an absentee ballot. Your local county clerk has to receive your absentee ballot application by Oct. 28. 

If this is the first time you’ve voted absentee in West Virginia, you have to include a copy of an ID that shows your current name and address (including: valid photo ID, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or any other official government document).
If you’re mailing your ballot, it has to be postmarked by Election Day (Nov. 3, 2020) and received by your local county clerk by Nov. 9, 2020.

If you’re dropping your ballot off in-person at your local county clerk’s office, it has to be there on the day BEFORE Election Day: Nov. 2, 2020. 

If you want to vote in-person:

Polls are open in every West Virginia county from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. You can find your polling place here.

When you vote, here’s what is/isn’t allowed:


In a statewide election, every West Virginia county must have at least one polling place that is accessible to people with disabilities. If you need it, you can also request assistance from poll workers to cast your ballot. Here’s some other useful information.


If you’re voting in-person, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging people to still observe social distancing. Poll workers will be sanitizing equipment, and everyone indoors will be required to wear a mask or face covering.


West Virginia law doesn’t allow “electioneering” inside any polling place on Election Day, or within 100 feet of the outside entrance of any polling place. This includes displaying campaign signs, wearing campaign gear, distributing campaign literature or collecting petition signatures. Exit polling is allowed, and so are bumper stickers. 

During early voting, electioneering is prohibited inside the polling place or within 100 feet of the entrance while early voting is actually taking place.

This, however, doesn’t prohibit someone who owns private property within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance from electioneering on their private property.

Nobody can ask to see your ballot once it is filled out.

If you encounter any problems or irregularities while voting, let us know! Text “BALLOT” to (304) 413-8889. This tool can help you learn more, get in touch with your county clerk, get legal help, or report a problem to journalists at Mountain State Spotlight and our partners at Electionland. You can also do this via this web form.


West Virginia state law does not specifically prohibit firearms in polling places, but if a polling place is in a school or a building that houses a court of law, firearms may be prohibited.

Your ballot:

This year’s West Virginia ballot has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. State law gives preference to the party whose presidential nominee received the most votes in the last election. For two decades — since George W. Bush’s 2000 win — that’s meant Republican candidates are listed first.

U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers ruled that method unconstitutional in August. But West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner appealed the decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which suspended Chambers’ ruling on Aug. 18.  The appellate court has yet to decide on the ballot’s constitutionality.

Read more: West Virginians are starting to vote in the general election. They’re using a ballot that one federal judge has ruled is unconstitutional.

Here’s who you’ll see on your ballot:

This sample ballot tool originated as a project of The Chicago Reporter and is provided with support from Newspack and the American Press Institute. Candidate data is sourced from Ballotpedia.
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