City Council considers vote-by-mail system
Published: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 23:11
The City of Morgantown has applied for a vote-by-mail system, upon approval, to be piloted by the city for the next year's Election Day.
Voting-by-mail is similar to absentee ballots but does not require an excuse for not going to the polls. Absentee voting requires an excuse and an application for getting a ballot, said David Nichols, manager of elections within West Virginia's Secretary of State Office. The absentee process drives voters away, Nichols said.
Some problems associated with the vote-by-mail system could be voting in place of someone who has died, he said. But the ballots would be confirmed by the signature of the voter.
The ballots are to be received before Election Day, but would be opened 18 days before, Nichols said.
The cost of voting-by-mail reduces Election Day costs by one third, said Mayor Bill Byrne.
"It would be a great help to increase voter participation," he said. "People have opportunities to receive the ballot-by -mail and drop it off personally in designated bins."
Nichols said the ballots could be either mailed back or dropped off in designated bins around the city.
Changing the election date for "less important elections" would cause the city to spend more money on changing the charter of the city and, in turn, cause more confusion, Byrne said.
The application was made in order to bring out more registered voters.
It was an understanding that if the application is approved, then Morgantown will undergo a pilot system on postal voting, Byrne said.
Councilor John Gaddis said community residents should discuss the postal voting issue before any Council members vote to implement the system.
Postal voting is on the agenda for the Committee of the Whole meeting Dec. 3.
The vote-by-mail system began in Oregon, in which more than 50 percent of registered voters are on the ballot mailing list. Voting by mail boosted registered votes cast from 40 percent to 86 percent in Oregon, Nichols said. Washington state has also adapted to the postal mail system.
Also during the meeting, Councilor Ron Bane said he was not comfortable with the circumstances in which the vote was cast for the new city manager.
Terrance Moore was chosen by Council in a 6-1 vote, in which Bane was the dissenting vote.
"Some statements and comments were made, and I am disappointed in some of the Council members," he said. "Dan Boroff came here in 1992, with a budget of $13 million and left with $24 million and did one hell of a job."
No rules were broken during the executive session in which the vote was made, Bane said.
Bane said he planned on treating Moore in the same manner as he did Boroff and Mikorski.