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‘Rigged’ or Not, Election Positions Trump to Shape Rules on How You Vote
12/02/16 |
Publication Date: 
Saturday, December 3, 2016 - 01:00
Excerpt: 

“The last time we had a national government that was as hostile to the protection of minority voting rights as we may have with this president was probably near the end of the first Reconstruction” after the Civil War, said Pamela S. Karlan, a Stanford University law professor, who was a deputy assistant attorney general under President Obama until 2015. ...

Several potentially decisive federal court rulings on voting rules and redistricting, most favoring voting-rights advocates, now appear bound for a Supreme Court whose ideological balance is in Mr. Trump’s hands. Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a linchpin of some of those cases, will fall to a Justice Department whose likely attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, is viewed with deep suspicion by civil rights advocates.

One Trump adviser, Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, is among the most aggressive national crusaders for voting restrictions.

Michigan legislature debating voter ID bill
12/02/16 |
Publication Date: 
Thursday, December 1, 2016 - 16:45
Excerpt: 

Adding the new requirements would make Michigan’s voter identification rules among the strictest in the nation. Michigan would join Wisconsin, Kansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Virginia as the only states that require voters to both sign an affidavit at the polls and then take the second step of proving their identity later.

Thirty-four states, including Michigan, request or require voters to show identification at the polls, though several states are engaged in lawsuits with civil rights groups and the federal government challenging their rules. ...

Michigan legislators have until December 15 to pass final bills before adjourning for the year.

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West Virginia Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Voter Registration Deadline: October 18, 2016.  Note that the Secretary of State’s online registration webpage states the deadline is 4 p.m. October 18, 2016, however, if the registration is postmarked by October 18, 2016, the registration is timely filed.

For more information, visit the Secretary of State’s website.

Election Day:

Polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day.

Early voting: You can also vote early at the county courthouse or annex from October 26, 2016 to November 5, 2016, during regular business hours during the week, and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays.  Some counties offer additional locations for early voting.  Check with your county clerk for additional early voting locations by contacting the county clerk’s office.

Absentee ballots: You may also request an absentee ballot in person at your county office, or by mail, between August 16 and November 2, 2016.  Absentee ballot requests are granted if:

  • You are attending school.
  • You are traveling outside of your county for business or personal reasons.
  • An injury, illness, physical disability, or advanced age prevents you from accessing your polling place.
  • You are incarcerated or serving home confinement for a misdemeanor, and you are legally registered to vote.
  • Your work hours and distance from the county seat make voting in person impossible.
  • A work assignment requires you to temporarily live outside of your county (four years or less).
  • Service as an elected or appointed state or federal official requires you to temporarily live outside of your county.
  • You are handicapped and the assigned polling place and the designated absentee voting area at the county courthouse are not accessible.
  • You are participating in the Address Confidentiality Program.
  • You are absent from the county during the voting period and are an absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter, including members of the armed services on active duty and their spouses and dependents, and persons who live outside the U.S. and are qualified to vote in the U.S.

An absentee ballot application is available on the Secretary of State’s website here.

Emergency absentee ballots: Eligible voters may apply for an emergency absentee ballot between November 1, 2016 and noon on Election Day, November 8, 2016.  An application for an emergency absentee ballot is available here.  Immediate family members may apply for the emergency absentee ballot on the voter’s behalf.  Two election officials will deliver your ballot.  Emergency absentee ballot requests are granted if:

  • You are in a hospital or other health care facility in your county on Election Day. 
  • You are a poll worker appointed to a precinct other than your own after the Early Voting period.

Some counties also allow emergency absentee voting in the following situations:

  • You are in a nursing home in your county, and you have resided here less than 30 days (in this case, a staff member of the nursing home may also request a ballot for you). 
  • You are in a hospital or other health care facility in a surrounding county or within 30 miles of your county seat.

Contact your county election office for more information on emergency absentee ballots.

Permanent absentee ballot: Certain voters are eligible to be placed on the permanent absentee voter list.  If you are a participant in the West Virginia Secretary of State's Address Confidentiality Program, or you have a permanent, physical disability that prevents you from going to the polling place, you can apply for permanent absentee voter status by filling out an application available on the Secretary of State’s webpage.  You will then receive absentee ballots until you submit a request to be taken off the permanent absentee ballot voter list.

Military and Overseas Voters:  Military and overseas voters may also obtain an absentee ballot.  For more information, see the Military and Overseas Voting Information webpage.

For more information about absentee ballots by mail, see the Secretary of State’s Absentee Ballot webpage.

How to Find Your Polling Place: Visit the West Virginia Secretary of State’s polling place locator web page.

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE

Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.


Registration Deadlines: The deadline to register to vote is 21 days before the General Election.  (There is an exception for certain members of the military and their families.  They have until Monday, Nov. 7, 2016.)  The deadline for this year’s General Election is Tuesday, October 18, 2016.  If filed online, at an agency that accepts registrations (such as the Department of Motor Vehicles), or at a county clerk’s office, the registration must be filed by the close of business.  In addition, a registration form is considered to have been timely filed if it is postmarked on or before the deadline.  If the postmark is illegible, the registration is considered timely if the county clerk receives the registration 3 days after the deadline.  If the registration form is missing information but is otherwise timely filed, the voter must provide the missing information within 4 business days of the close of registration.  There is no same-day registration.

How to Check Your Registration: Use WV’s registrant search website or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility:  To be qualified to register to vote in West Virginia, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a West Virginia resident
  • Be at least 18 years of age by Election Day (you may register if you are 17 years old, if you will be 18 on or before Election Day)
  • Not be ruled mentally incompetent by a court of law
  • Not be under conviction, probation, or parole for treason, bribery in an election, or any felony. (Once a person completes his or her sentence, he or she may register to vote again.)

How to Register: You may register in person, by mail by filling out an application and sending it to your county clerk’s office or the Secretary of State’s office, or online.  If you register in person, you may register at the county clerk’s office, the Secretary of State’s office, the DMV, public assistance offices, agencies which serve people with disabilities, marriage license offices, or military recruiting agencies.

Identification Required for Registration:  If you are registering to vote for the first time in West Virginia or your county, and you have not voted in a federal election in this state, you must show a valid ID with your application or the first time you vote. If you mail your application, you may send a copy of a valid ID.  West Virginia accepts the following documents that show your current name and address:

  • Valid photo identification
  • Utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check
  • Paycheck
  • Any other official government document

If you are on the inactive voter list, you must affirm your residence address when you vote at your polling place.

If You Want to Vote Early

You can also vote early at the county courthouse or annex from October 26, 2016 to November 5, 2016, during regular business hours during the week, and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays.  Some counties offer additional locations for early voting.  Check with your county clerk for additional early voting locations by contacting the county clerk’s office.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

You may also request an absentee ballot in person at your county office, or by mail, between August 16 and November 2, 2016.  Absentee ballot requests are granted if:

  • You are attending school.
  • You are traveling outside of your county for business or personal reasons.
  • An injury, illness, physical disability, or advanced age prevents you from accessing your polling place.
  • You are incarcerated or serving home confinement for a misdemeanor, and you are legally registered to vote.
  • Your work hours and distance from the county seat make voting in person impossible.
  • You are handicapped, and both your polling place and the designated absentee voting area at the county courthouse is not accessible.
  • You are participating in the Address Confidentiality Program.
  • You are an absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter, including members of the armed services on active duty and their spouses and dependents, and persons who live outside the U.S. and are qualified to vote in the U.S.
  • A work assignment requires you to temporarily live outside of your county (four years or less).
  • Service as an elected or appointed state or federal official requires you to temporarily live outside of your county.

An absentee ballot application is available on the Secretary of State’s website here.  If returning the absentee ballot in person, the deadline to return an absentee ballot is the day before Election Day.  If returning the absentee ballot by mail, the absentee ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day and the county clerk must receive the absentee ballot by the start of the canvass, which is 5 days (excluding Sunday) after Election Day.

Emergency absentee ballots: Eligible voters may apply for an emergency absentee ballot between November 1, 2016 and noon on Election Day, November 8, 2016.  An application for an emergency absentee ballot is available here.  Immediate family members may request an emergency absentee ballot on the voter’s behalf.  Two election officials will deliver your ballot.  Emergency absentee ballot requests are granted if:

  • You are in a hospital or other health care facility in your county on Election Day. 
  • You are a poll worker appointed to a precinct other than your own after the Early Voting period.

Some counties also allow emergency absentee voting in the following situations:

  • You are in a nursing home in your county, and you have resided here less than 30 days (in this case, a staff member of the nursing home may also request a ballot for you). 
  • You are in a hospital or other health care facility in a surrounding county or within 30 miles of your county seat.

Contact your county election office for more information on emergency absentee ballots.

Permanent absentee ballot: Certain voters are eligible to be placed on the permanent absentee voter list.  If you are a participant in the West Virginia Secretary of State's Address Confidentiality Program, or you have a permanent, physical disability that prevents you from going to the polling place, you can apply for permanent absentee voter status by filling out an application available on the Secretary of State’s webpage.  You will then receive absentee ballots until you submit a request to be taken off the permanent absentee ballot voter list.

Military and Overseas Voters:  Military and overseas voters may also obtain an absentee ballot.  For more information, see the Military and Overseas Voting Information webpage.

For more information about absentee ballots by mail, see the Secretary of State’s Absentee Ballot webpage.

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

If you are a first-time voter, you may be asked to provide identification.  West Virginia accepts the following documents that show your current name and address:

  • Valid photo identification
  • Utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check
  • Paycheck
  • Any other official government document

VoteRiders has created Alabama voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

Moving within the Same County

If a voter has moved within the same precinct, then the voter should go to the appropriate polling place for that precinct.  If the voter registration list still lists the voter’s old address, the voter should ask to update his or her registration.  If the updated address is within the same precinct, the voter must be permitted to vote with a regular ballot.

A voter who has moved to a new precinct within the county should go to the appropriate polling place for his or her new address and ask to update his or her voter registration and vote there.  The County Clerk may have already updated the voter’s registration.  If not, the voter should ask to fill out an affidavit of change of address.  The voter will be allowed to vote by provisional ballot, which will be counted as long as the voter’s registration can be found in the county’s registration records while the votes are being canvassed.  To find the polling place for their new address, the voter can contact the County Clerk.  To find contact information for a County Clerk, visit: http://www.sos.wv.gov/public-services/contacts/pages/clerkcountycomm.aspx.

Moving Between Counties

Voters should update their registration by October 18, 2016, (21 days before Election Day) in order to be placed on the rolls, and this update should be done by the close of business.  The Secretary of State’s Office webpage for updating voter registration has a 4 p.m. deadline.  If mailed, the registration update is timely if the registration is postmarked by October 18, 2016.  If the voter has not registered before the deadline, the voter may cast a provisional ballot in their new precinct, but it will probably not be counted. To find contact information for a County Clerk, visit: http://www.sos.wv.gov/public-services/contacts/pages/clerkcountycomm.aspx.

Moving Into or From West Virginia

Voters moving from West Virginia to another state after that state’s voter registration deadline are permitted to vote for president and vice president in West Virginia, under the Voting Rights Act of 1970, if they were registered to vote in West Virginia before the move.  Voters moving into West Virginia from another state after the voter registration deadline may not vote on Election Day in West Virginia, but should contact state election officials in the state where they moved from, to see if they can vote in their former state for president and vice president.

Military and other overseas citizens may use the standard procedure for absentee voting by mail, but there are also special provisions for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and merchant marine, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with family members of all these groups, and other citizens who reside outside the United States (together, these groups are called UOCAVA voters).

Late Registration: Voters who are members of the military on active duty, members of the military discharged from active duty less than 60 days before the election, members of the merchant marine, other persons residing outside the county and working for national security purposes, or the spouses and dependents of any of the above can register late.  To be eligible to register late, the voter either must be normally absent from the county or have returned to the county after October 18 because of the voter’s (or their spouse or guardian’s) service.  These people can register at the County Clerk’s office any day before Election Day (that is, any day up to and including Monday, November 7).  These voters will vote by provisional ballot at their polling place, but their vote should be counted.

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) West Virginia-specific FPCA page.  For more information, see the Secretary of State’s webpage for military and overseas voters.

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters may receive their ballot by mail, email, or fax. Ballots may be returned by mail, email, or fax.  Fax numbers and email addresses for the county clerks are available here or here.  Please also see FVAP’s West Virginia-specific FPCA page. If you return your absentee ballot by email or fax, your absentee ballot must be received by your local voting officials in West Virginia by 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day.  Email addresses and fax number are available on here or here.  Otherwise, your absentee ballot must be received by the day canvass begins, Monday, November 14. 

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters.  You can use this FWAB whether you are located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses), provided that you are away from your voting residence for service-related activities.  You may vote a FWAB if you requested a regular absentee ballot more than 14 days prior to Election Day but have not received it.  If you use the FWAB, your FWAB must be received by 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, November 8, 2016.  For specific instructions, visit the FVAP’s West Virginia-specific FPCA page.  If your county clerk receives your state absentee ballot before canvass, the county clerk will count the state absentee ballot and not the FWAB.

If you have been convicted of a felony, you may not vote while you are serving a term of incarceration, are released on parole, or are under probation.  After all terms of incarceration, parole, and probation have been served, you may re-register to vote.

FAQ

Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

For more information for student voters, visit the Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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2016 Election Information for your state