Manchin’s H.R. 1/S. 1 Compromise Bill Threatens West Virginia’s Absentee Ballot System

Published On: September 14th, 2021

15 Other States Mirror WV’s System

SEPTEMBER 2021 – West Virginia briefly experimented with expanded mail voting during the 2020 primary season by choosing to send an absentee ballot application to every registered voter ahead of the June 9 contests. In the aftermath, county clerks criticized the experience given the heightened paper-based work despite the state’s more digitized election administration systems. For the 2020 General Election, the state maintained the traditionally required excuse-based absentee system. Unlike in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and others, West Virginia’s undeliverable and “status unknown” ballots did not exceed any statewide difference in winning an election contest last year.

West Virginia’s absentee system balances emergent needs to vote away from the polling place with clear rules on access and handling. In Senator Joe Manchin’s latest bid to revive H.R. 1/S. 1 with his compromise framework, his home state’s clearly functioning system will be outlawed by federal statute.

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Public Interest Legal Foundation