CHARLESTON – Upon taking office five months ago, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner wasted no time in teaming up with county clerks across the state to clean up voter rolls in all 55 counties. The results of that teamwork are incredible.
Specifically, in five months, more than 53,000 outdated voter registration records were removed from the voter rolls. Those deleted files included persons who had not updated their voter registrations after changing residences, deceased persons’ registrations, outdated files, and convicted felons currently serving sentences of incarceration, parole or probation.
In addition to the removed files, Secretary Warner confirms that more than 13,400 new voter registrations have been added since he took office in January. Of those, more than 1,000 are high school students who are eligible to vote for the first time this coming June.
Secretary Warner hopes his focus on cleaning up voter registration files will result in a renewed confidence in local, county, state and federal election results. A great indication of that renewed confidence is less voter apathy and a higher voter turnout on election day.
With regard to the upcoming municipal elections in West Virginia, 130 of West Virginia’s 232 municipalities are hosting elections this summer. On the ballots are city or town council members, recorders, clerks, mayors and other city officials who are either running for the first time or for reelection.
To assist municipalities with conducting problem-free elections, the Secretary of State’s Office partnered with the West Virginia Municipal League to host a statewide training seminar and two regional training seminars for municipal officials. More than 90 municipalities sent representatives to at least one of the municipal elections training seminars, which were held in Charleston and Clarksburg. At the trainings, we went over everything from early absentee voting and election day procedures, to canvassing the election and the proper way to count and secure the ballots.
Despite coordinated efforts to prevent election fraud, Secretary Warner understands that there will always be people who try to cheat the system and cast doubt on an election. To make it harder to cheat, the Warner administration has an ambitious team of professionals in the Legal Division, which includes a statewide network of investigators who will investigate fraud allegations and will seek prosecution of those who participate in illegal election activity. To report an election violation, please call the Secretary of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-866-SOS-VOTE.
The Secretary of State’s Office encourages voters who live in a city or town hosting an election to learn about their candidates, register to vote, and explore the early-voting options in your city or town. Additionally, we implore you encourage your family, friends and neighbors to all get to the polls on election day and participate in the democratic process that helps make the United States of America the greatest country in the world.
Kersey is director of the West Virginia Secretary of State's Elections Division.