CHARLESTON -- Secretary of State Betty Ireland issued a commendation Tuesday to U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin for his efforts to ensure new U.S. citizens would have the opportunity to register and vote in the 2008 General Election.
Goodwin is chief judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
"Judge Goodwin has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to civic responsibility by honoring the most fundamental right and responsibility of citizenship in the United States – the right to vote." Ireland said in a press release. "He is a brilliant example to all citizens of the vital importance of participation in our democratic process of elections."
Goodwin on Tuesday presided over a naturalization ceremony held at the federal courthouse in Charleston where about 65 new Americans from 33 nations took the oath of U.S. citizenship.
The ceremony originally was scheduled for Oct. 20. But, to allow the new citizens the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election, Goodwin rescheduled the ceremony for Tuesday -- despite significant logistical challenges -- so the new citizens could register before the Oct. 14 registration deadline.
The 65 newly sworn American citizens hail from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Canada, China, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Syria, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Representatives from the Kanawha County Clerk's Office were on hand to register voters following the ceremony.
"It is my honor to recognize Judge Goodwin for the steps taken to ensure our newest citizens may fully participate in our great democracy." Ireland said. "By this commendation, Judge Goodwin holds a distinguished place in the history of voting in West Virginia."