by Kate Shunney
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced last Wednesday, April 1 that the state’s Primary Election would be held on June 9, not in May.
The move is part of the state’s official response to the coronavirus.
Eligible state residents now have until May 15 to register to vote in the party primary election.
Early voting will take place from May 27 through June 6.
The deadline for voters to request an absentee ballot is now June 3.
County clerks around the state have worked with mass mailing vendors to send an absentee ballot application to every registered voter on their rolls.
An absentee ballot allows a voter to cast their vote on a paper ballot that is then mailed to each County Clerk. The clerk confirms the applicant is a registered voter and sends the appropriate party’s ballot to that person in order for them to vote.
During normal elections, the absentee ballot is used by individuals who can’t physically make it to a polling place due to travel, hospitalization, work abroad or military deployment.
This year, the absentee ballots are being used as a way to reduce the number of voters who will physically gather at polling places. This is part of an effort to reduce to spread of the coronavirus.
Morgan County voters cast their ballots at 13 precincts around the county.
During this primary election, local voters will select which candidate will represent their party in the general election.
Voters will also decide the winners in several non-partisan races during the Primary Election on June 9.
In Morgan County, voters will choose two Morgan County Magistrates, a judge for the 23rd Judicial Circuit and two members of the Morgan County Board of Education. Those races will be decided on June 9.
Voters will pick two Magistrates – one for Division 1 and one for Division 2. The divisions don’t represent regions of the county but are a court designation for the ballot.
Seeking the bench in Division 1 are current Magistrate Debra Ditto and challengers Johnnie Walter Jr., Angela Schmidt and former magistrate Greg Miller.
Magistrate Kermit Ambrose is seeking another term as Magistrate in Division 2, and he is uncontested in his race.
23rd Circuit Judge Debra McLaughlin is also running unopposed in her bid for the bench.
Two seats on the Morgan County Board of Education are being sought by incumbents Pete Gordon and John Rowland. The two former educators face no challenges in May to their reelection bids.
In party races, Morgan County voters will select which candidates move on to the General Election in November. County-level races will effectively be decided in the primary because they are concentrated on the Republican ballot. No Democrats or third-party candidates have filed to run for open county posts.
Current Sheriff K.C. Bohrer is being challenged by former sheriff Vince Shambaugh in the Republican primary for Morgan County Sheriff.
Commissioner Joel Tuttle faces a challenge from Tim “T.J.” Johnson in the Republican primary for Morgan County Commissioner.
Three Republicans are vying for the post of Morgan County Assessor – the current assessor’s Chief Deputy Debbie Weaver, Allen Truax and Irv Miller.
Prosecuting Attorney Dan James, a Republican, is unopposed in his re-election bid.
District races for Legislature
District races on party ballots include elections for a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates representing the 58th and 59th districts, both of which include parts of Morgan County. Local voters will also see races for the State Senate, 15th district, and several state level offices.
Current Delegate Daryl Cowles, a Republican, is seeking another two-year term representing the 58th Delegate District. That district includes most of Morgan County.
Republican George Miller of Berkeley Springs is challenging Cowles in the GOP primary. Democrat Tom Harden of Berkeley Springs has also filed to run for the delegate seat for the 58th district. He has no Democratic challenge in the primary and will face off in November against whichever Republic wins the primary.
Larry Kump, Republican of Falling Waters, is running for another two-year term in the West Virginia House of Delegates representing the 59th district. That district includes portions of eastern Morgan County and Berkeley County. Morgan County Commissioner Ken Reed, a Republican, is running against Kump in the GOP primary election.
State Senator Craig Blair, a Republican from Martinsburg, is seeking re-election to the State Senate to represent the 15th Senatorial District, which includes Morgan County. Kenneth Mattson, Republican of Inwood, is challenging Blair in the primary.