Secretary of State Mac Warner released some stunning figures this week during an appearance on MetroNews Talkline; the names of 47,490 outdated and ineligible voters have been removed from the voter rolls just since he took office. Warner’s office and county clerks used the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to clean up the rolls. ERIC allows participating states to compare voter eligibility records using voter registration and motor vehicle registrations, U.S. Postal Service addresses, and Social Security death records. Those 47,490 names were struck for a variety of reasons. In the most common instance, a woman changed her name when married, reregistered and was on the rolls twice. Others moved away and registered in another county or state, but remained on the books in their original location. In other cases voters were never taken off the rolls after they died.
Articles about voting issues in West Virginia.
The House Judiciary Committee sent a bare-bones, edited version of a new voter-identification law to the chamber floor Thursday for consideration by the full West Virginia House of Delegates. The original bill would have required state-issued photo identification to vote, making West Virginia one of the strictest states, in terms of voting standards. However, the new version of the bill only delays last year’s voter identification law — which has not yet been enacted — until July 1, 2019. The new bill also stops a requirement that the Division of Motor Vehicles forward to the Secretary of State’s Office information from anyone who opts out of registering to vote.
The House Judiciary Committee worked through a bill Wednesday to require West Virginians to present government-issued photo identification at the polls before casting a ballot. After an hour of discussion, the committee sent the bill (HB 2781) down to a subcommittee for further review. Should it pass, the bill would trump sections of existing legislation (HB 4013), which passed last year and is scheduled to take effect in 2018. That law calls for a lower standard of identification for voters, allowing for bank statements, hunting licenses or having an adult or poll worker vouch for a familiar voter’s identity.
West Virginia: Stricter voter ID bill proposed despite lack of in-person fraud | Charleston Gazette-Mail
A voter identification bill going through the state Legislature would limit the types of government-issued photo identification voters could present at the polls. House Bill 2781 is being reviewed by a House Judiciary subcommittee. If passed, voters would be required to show a valid driver’s license, a West Virginia identification card, a U.S. passport or passport card, an employee photo identification card issued by a government agency, or a military photo ID.
Legislative efforts to prevent in-person voter fraud generated discussion Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee. House Bill 2781, sponsored by Del. Saira Blair, R-Berkeley, would require voters to present government-issued photo identification at a polling place to verify their identity before casting their ballot. The bill would additionally eliminate the Automatic Voter Registration initiative found on a driver’s license application. If passed, West Virginia would be the eighth state to pass photo ID laws. Exemptions to the bill include nursing home residents and those who have religious objections to being photographed. Student IDs were also removed as legitimate forms of government photo IDs.
West Virginia: Warner alleges Tennant sabotaged secretary of state office changeover | Charleston Gazette-Mail
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner alleged Thursday that his predecessor, Natalie Tennant, directed employees to “sabotage” the office’s transition to Warner’s administration. Tennant called Warner’s allegations “ridiculous.” “The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner, and that’s what you have here,” Tennant said. On Thursday afternoon, Warner’s chief deputy issued a news release, claiming Tennant instructed staffers to disrupt the changeover. An hour later, Warner’s deputy, Mike Queen, put out a second news release, asking media outlets to disregard the previous release. The second release included many of the same allegations, but provided more details.
West Virginia: Secretary of State, Incoming Successor Quarrel Over Hacking Claims | Government Technology
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and Secretary of State-Elect Mac Warner are sparring over claims that the Department of Homeland Security attempted to “hack” into West Virginia election records. Warner encouraged President-elect Donald Trump to pursue an immediate investigation into “recorded hacking attempts” of voter files in West Virginia, according to a statement released early Sunday morning. Warner said the attempts were recorded by firewall protection software Nov. 7 and Oct. 29. “Upon taking office, this issue will be at the top of our list to investigate and respond appropriately,” Warner wrote. “DHS holds a responsibility to be transparent with the hacking details, objective and intent of action with the information.” Tennant said Warner’s statements were false in a statement Sunday afternoon. On Oct. 29 an invalid website address was used in an attempt to reach West Virginia’s Statewide Voter Registration System. She said the DHS IP address Warner is questioning viewed public election night results on Nov. 7.
A federal judge in Huntington on Tuesday sided with lawyers from West Virginia’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and ordered the Cabell County clerk to permit online voter registration within the county. Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers found that by not honoring the state’s electronic voter registration system, Cabell Clerk Karen Cole is violating the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Residents in every other West Virginia county but Cabell have been able to successfully use the electronic system, ACLU lawyers wrote in the lawsuit they filed last week. Following the ruling, Cole said she would immediately begin registering voters who used the online system. Cole will mail those people voter registration cards and letters stating they don’t have to take any additional steps to be able to vote Nov. 8.
West Virginia: ACLU files lawsuit over online voter registration in Cabell County | Charleston Gazette-Mail
The West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole, claiming her refusal to recognize and permit online voter registration within the county violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Residents in every other West Virginia county but Cabell, the lawsuit states, are able to successfully use the electronic voter registration system through the Secretary of State’s website. And Cabell is one of the top five counties in the state where prospective voters have used the online system, according to the complaint, which was also filed by the national ACLU’s Voting Rights Project and Charleston lawyer Anthony Majestro. The organizations filed the complaint, which seeks class-action status, on behalf of Allison Mullins, who recently moved to Cabell County to attend Marshall University. Mullins used the Secretary of State’s website to update her voter registration information prior to the Oct. 18 deadline, the lawsuit states. Her “information was not and will not be processed by Defendant Cole without action from this Court,” her lawyers wrote.
While federal courts have recently overturned voter ID laws in five states on the grounds they discriminate against minorities and the poor, the lead sponsor and primary author of West Virginia’s voter ID legislation said he believes that law would stand up in court. “We took, I think, great care in drafting the language within the perimeters laid out in the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the last 10 to 12 years,” said Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha. As a practical matter, Lane believes the West Virginia law — which takes effect for the 2018 elections — so broadly defines acceptable types of identification, opponents would be hard-pressed to find someone disenfranchised by it. “I would be surprised if there was a challenge in West Virginia,” he said. “It would be hard for someone not to be able to meet those requirements.”