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More than 58,000 West Virginians have requested an absentee ballot for the 2020 general election within the first month of being able to do so.

With 53 days left until the Nov. 3 general election, more West Virginians have requested an absentee ballot leading up to the general election than had at the same point ahead of the June 9 primary election, said Mike Queen, director of communications for the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.

Of the approximately 58,995 voters who had requested an absentee ballot as of Thursday morning, 31,510 of them requested their ballots via paper applications made to their local county clerk’s office; 27,485 had requested a ballot using an online portal on the secretary of state’s website, Queen said.

A total of 46,152 absentee ballot applications have been verified and approved by county clerks, Queen said in a news release Thursday morning.

All registered voters in West Virginia are eligible to vote absentee during the 2020 general election after the extension of an emergency rule that relaxed the qualifications to do so.

When there were 53 days left before the primary election in June, the emergency rule allowing everyone to vote absentee had been in effect for only a month. Gov. Jim Justice announced April 1 that he would delay West Virginia’s primary election, moving it from May 12 to June 9.

In total, 224,734 ballots were cast by mail during the June primary election, little more than half of the 450,909 ballots cast.

There were 1,226,307 registered voters in West Virginia leading into the primary election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

To apply to vote absentee, West Virginians first must make sure they’re eligible to vote. To check voter registration and to register to vote, West Virginians may contact their local county clerk’s office or visit www.GoVoteWV.com.

Once registered, voters have a couple of options for requesting an absentee ballot, if that is how they prefer to vote.

Voters may apply for an absentee ballot by visiting the secretary of state’s online portal and requesting a ballot there. They also may print off an absentee ballot application from the website to fill out and mail to their local county clerk’s office, or they may contact their local county clerk’s office to receive a paper copy of the application to fill out and return.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 28. The application must be in the county clerk’s office on Oct. 28 for the clerk to consider the request.

County clerks will begin mailing out absentee ballots beginning Sept. 18.

Even though absentee voting is accessible to allow people to take proper precautions against potentially spreading or contracting COVID-19, options to vote in-person still are available to West Virginians.

The early voting period will take place from Oct. 21-31 during regular business hours at local courthouses and satellite locations, where such locations exist.

Voters still may vote at their regular precincts between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Reach Lacie Pierson at

lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com,

304-348-1723 or follow

@laciepierson on Twitter.