Secretary of State Mac Warner announced that for the upcoming General Election, West Virginia will once again offer e-voting for voters eligible under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voters Act (UOCAVA) and certain registered voters who cannot vote in person due to a physical disability.
The Secretary of State’s Office has worked for years to continue to provide secure, reliable, and convenient voting options for UOCAVA and voters with physical disabilities. E-voting for UOCAVA voters has been available since 2018, and was expanded by the Legislature in 2020 to voters with certain physical disabilities.
“From hillsides in Afghanistan to submarines under the Polar Ice Cap, e-voting eliminates barriers to the ballot box unique to our military men and women serving across the globe,” Warner said. “It is essential we leverage technology to give not just the right, but the actual opportunity to vote to those Americans who put their lives on the line to preserve our democracy.”
E-voting is crucial for UOCAVA voters who are experiencing mail service delays and disruptions as a result of their overseas assignments and COVID-19. International postal disruptions have gotten significantly worse due to the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, with more than 150 countries experiencing ongoing delays and over 50 having suspended all inbound and outbound international mail service. By providing an e-voting option, West Virginia is working to ensure that all military and overseas voters – the majority of whom have relied on mail to receive and return their ballots – have a secure and convenient way to vote in the upcoming election.
“Having the option to vote electronically during a pandemic when there have been ongoing disruptions to mail service is important for our active-duty military serving overseas,” said Bradley Tusk, CEO and Founder of Tusk Philanthropies. “West Virginia understands the importance of providing convenient voting options for the members of our military who are risking their lives to fight for our country.”
“For over a decade, Democracy Live has been supporting state and local elections to serve our men and women serving in the military or stationed abroad to be able to vote,” said Bryan Finney, CEO and Founder of Democracy Live. “Democracy Live is proud to support West Virginia’s efforts to ensure all voters, no matter where they are living, or serving to vote safely and securely.”
“We look forward to the opportunity to continue exploring the nexus of security and accessibility when it comes to supporting overseas voters — and domestic voters on a limited scale,” said Forrest Senti, Director of Business and Government Initiatives at the National Cybersecurity Center. “The learning from these pilots adds to the definition of what the future of voting may look like, and we look forward to the going process of innovation and discovery.”
In the most recent legislative session, Warner worked with the West Virginia Legislature in January 2020 to expand electronic voting to registered voters who are living with a physical disability which prevents them from voting in person and from voting a paper ballot without assistance.
Eligible voters who are interested in using the e-voting option can apply using the Electronic Absentee Ballot Application portal at GoVoteWV.com. Military and overseas voters may also use the Federal Post Card Application at FVAP.gov.
The e-voting pilot is a collaboration with the West Virginia Secretary of State, Democracy Live, Tusk Philanthropies, and the National Cybersecurity Center. Electronic ballots for UOCAVA voters who have requested such in West Virginia will go out starting September 18. Electronic ballots must be received on November 3 by 7:30 p.m. ET.