20. We have absentee voting that works through the postal service. Why do we need vote by mail?
In West Virginia, absentee voting is not available to everyone. Under current law, only voters who fit into certain categories of eligibility can vote absentee.
For the 2020 primary election, eligibility for absentee ballots was expanded to all voters because of the coronavirus pandemic. We have no guarantee this accommodation will be extended for the 2020 general election or thereafter.
The main difference between absentee voting and vote by mail is the application: True vote by mail eliminates the application process. To vote absentee, the voter must fill out and return an application to request their ballot. Under vote by mail, voters do not request their ballots. Instead, the county clerk automatically sends a ballot to every registered voter. This saves time and money.
Returning ballots is similar in the two systems, except vote by mail would expand the number of places other than the mailbox to return completed ballots.
In terms of processing returned ballots, the work of the county clerk is similar in the two systems—non-forwardable mail and signature verification are the primary methods of voter validation for both absentee and vote by mail systems.