We Are #WVProDemocracy: Fighting for Free, Fair, and Safe Elections
By Julie Archer
In advance of Governor Justice’s stay at home order, when it appeared that our primary election would be held as the coronavirus was peaking in West Virginia, we initiated conversations with the Secretary of State’s office to ensure they had plans in place to administer the election safely and protect the health of voters and poll workers. After it was announced that the election would be delayed and that absentee voting would be available to all West Virginia voters due to the pandemic, we worked with partners and allies to educate voters about their voting options and how to vote safely in the age of COVID-19. As part of Vote Together WV, we made 7,659 calls and texted 62,423 voters. Additionally, WV Citizens for Clean Elections partnered with the WV Consumer Protection Alliance on a website (wvcourtelections.org) to help voters learn more about our state Supreme Court elections and the candidates. None of this would have been possible without our amazing volunteers and the support of members like you that make our election protection and voter engagement efforts possible.
By most accounts, the primary election was a success. Although turnout was lower than we hoped, there were no systemic problems and West Virginia voters embraced absentee voting in large numbers, with half of voters choosing to cast their ballots safely from home. Ensuring the process used in the primary continues for the November election is essential to protecting our health and making our voices heard. Although the Secretary of State’s office confirmed that voters will be able to use COVID-19 as a medical excuse to vote absentee in the upcoming election, at this point we don’t know if the necessary executive orders and funding will be in place to mail applications to voters, as was done in the primary.
Giving all West Virginia voters the option to safely vote absentee ballot in light of the ongoing pandemic was just and right. WV Citizens for Clean Elections is part of a coalition of voting rights advocates and community leaders calling on the governor, and state and local election officials to make the process consistent with the primary by mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. Help us keep the pressure the pressure on by sending a letter to Governor Jim Justice and Secretary of State Mac Warner using this link: https://tinyurl.com/ProtectOurVoteWV
Our democracy depends on fair and open elections and the health of our people, we can have both.
In addition to ensuring voting is safe, accessible and secure in November, we are working to engage folks in projects we have planned for the remainder of 2020, and move people to action on our pro-democracy and fair courts agenda. This includes:
- Lifting up our Pro-Democracy Platform by sending a questionnaire to legislative candidates and publicizing the results. By supporting the platform, the Legislature can give us all a greater voice, and help us all participate in building a healthier democracy.
- Advancing recusal including working on a report using this report from Common Cause Ohio as a template, and engaging legal scholars and former judges. (What is recusal and why is it important? See my recent op-ed on reforms needed to bring greater trust, accountability and transparency to the judiciary.)
Please reach out if you are interested in being part of these efforts. We’re grateful for your support and look forward to hearing from you!