West Virginia election chief Mac Warner backs conspiracy theories | Kevin Collier/NBC

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, running for the Republican nomination for governor, has drawn attention for espousing conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, including claims that the CIA and FBI lied to the American people, allegations debunked by both agencies. Despite previously working to combat election disinformation, Warner now embraces baseless theories that undermine confidence in the electoral process, a shift some colleagues see as politically motivated. While Warner insists on principle over politics, his assertions have strained relationships within the National Association of Secretaries of State, with fellow officials expressing disappointment and concern over his actions. Read Article

West Virginia Adds to Election Deniers’ Ongoing Takeover of State Politics | Alex Burness/Bolts

In January 2021, days after rallying outside the U.S. Capitol against legitimate presidential election results, West Virginia state Senator Mike Azinger said he hoped for an encore. “(T)here’s a time where we all have to make a little bit of sacrifice. Our president called us to D.C.,” he told local news at the time. “It was inspiring to be there and I hope he calls us back.” His loyalty to election denialism has not appeared to harm his political career; he was re-elected last fall after a tight Republican primary and a blowout general election, and, earlier this year, he was named chair of the Senate panel tasked with reviewing election policy. Azinger is now one of several election deniers leading legislative committees on election law, including in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Arizona. Others have been elected to lead state Republican parties in recent weeks.

Full Article: West Virginia Adds to Election Deniers’ Ongoing Takeover of State Politics  | Bolts

West Virginia GOP Lawmaker Derrick Evans Resigns After Getting Arrested For Participating In U.S. Capitol Riot – NowThis

A newly elected state Republican official from West Virginia has resigned after being arrested and charged by federal authorities for illegally entering the U.S. Capitol last week as part of the pro-Trump mob. Derrick Evans, who was sworn in to the West Virginia House of Delegates in December, was arrested Friday after his own livestreamed videos on social media showed him entering the Capitol as part of the mob. By Saturday, facing increasing calls for his removal, Evans resigned. He was one of several state GOP lawmakers who participated in the insurrection at the Capitol, a deadly riot that has left at least 5 people dead, including one Capitol police officer. Lawmakers from at least 7 states including West Virginia, Missouri, and Tennessee have been identified as participants in Wednesday’s attempt to overturn the democratic process of certifying Joe Biden as the president-elect. All of those who participated or claimed they were there to observe are now facing calls to resign. Before his arrest, Evans claimed that he was there as an “independent member of the media” (his attorney claimed he’s an “amateur journalist”) and tried to distance himself from violent rioters. But his own now-removed video livestreamed to his Facebook page, “Derrick Evans – The Activist,” shows him wearing a helmet and saying to camera, “We’re going in.” Once the crowd broke into the Capitol, Evans said on video, “We did it! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” Evans told others in the Capitol not to vandalize property, saying, “This is our house, and we respect it.” He also ignored a request from an officer to exit the building, shouting in response, “Patriots inside, baby!”

Full Article: GOP Lawmaker Resigns After Getting Arrested For Participating In U.S. Capitol Riot – NowThis

West Virginia: Derrick Evans resigns State House of Delegates after entering U.S. Capitol with mob | Brad McElhinny/WV MetroNews

Derrick Evans, facing federal charges for entering the U.S. Capitol with a mob, has resigned from West Virginia’s House of Delegates. “I hereby resign as a member of the House of Delegates, effective immediately,” Evans said in a one-page letter submitted to Gov. Jim Justice and the House. The House released another statement from Evans expressing regret. “I take full responsibility for my actions, and deeply regret any hurt, pain or embarrassment I may have caused my family, friends, constituents and fellow West Virginians,” Evans stated. “I hope this action I take today can remove any cloud of distraction from the state Legislature, so my colleagues can get to work in earnest building a brighter future for our state. And more importantly, I hope it helps to begin the healing process, so we can all move forward and come together as ‘One Nation, Under God.’”

Full Article: Derrick Evans resigns W.Va. House after entering U.S. Capitol with mob – WV MetroNews

West Virginia Republican Delegate Derrick Evans records himself storming the U.S. Capitol: “We’re in!” | CBS News

A West Virginia state lawmaker recorded video of himself and fellow supporters of President Donald Trump storming the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, triggering calls for his resignation. In the video by Republican Delegate Derrick Evans, later deleted from his social media page, he is shown wearing a helmet and clamoring at the door to breach the building after Congress met for an expected vote to affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory. “We’re in! Keep it moving, baby!” he said in a packed doorway amid Trump followers holding flags and complaining of being pepper sprayed. Once inside, Evans could be seen on video milling around the Capitol Rotunda, where historical paintings depict the republic’s founding, and yelled “no vandalizing.” Lawmakers from other states also traveled to the nation’s capital to protest the results of the Electoral College on Wednesday. It’s unclear if any other elected official forced their way into the U.S. Capitol. Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano helped organize a bus ride to protest in Washington, D.C., and said he left the Capitol area after the eruption of violence, which he called “unacceptable.” A Democratic colleague called for his resignation nonetheless.

Full Article: West Virginia lawmaker records himself storming the U.S. Capitol: “We’re in!” – CBS News

West Virginia: Harrison County Commission dismisses election contest; filers plan to appeal | JoAnn Snoderly/WV News

The Harrison County Commission on Wednesday dismissed an election contest complaint filed by the Harrison County Republican Executive Committee and the Republican candidate for County Commission.Republican Executive Committee Chair Virginia Rockwell told The Exponent Telegram later that the committee will “absolutely” appeal the decision to Harrison Circuit Court.Commissioners voted 2-to-1 to dismiss, with only Commissioner David Hinkle voting against Commissioner Patsy Trecost’s motion. In a letter to commissioners, attorney Michael Taylor, representing County Clerk and Commissioner-elect Susan Thomas, requested the commission dismiss the contest on the grounds that the filing was “deficient procedurally, factually and legally.” In the letter, Taylor claimed that a contest first requires a recount request unless there are allegations of fraud or illegality, or the candidate’s eligibility is in question. In this case, there were no such allegations, just procedural questions, so the lack of a recount would require dismissal, he wrote. According to Taylor, accepting the contest would also subject every race on the ballot — from the county to the federal level — to the challenge.

Full Article: Harrison County (West Virginia) Commission dismisses election contest; filers plan to appeal | WV News | wvnews.com

West Virginia: Secretary of State: All voters eligible to request absentee ballot for November election | Charles Young/WV News | wvnews.com

All West Virginia voters will be able to cite concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic as reason to request an absentee ballot for the November general election, according to Secretary of State Mac Warner. All voters need to do is simply select “Illness, injury or other medical reason which keeps me confined” as the reason for requesting an absentee ballot application from their local county clerk, Warner said. “West Virginia voters should never have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Warner said. “Just as in the 2020 Primary Election, voters following state and federal authorities’ recommendations to protect their health by remaining home have the option to cast a ballot in person or by absentee ballot.” His office also has developed an online absentee ballot request portal, which will launch Aug. 11 on govotewv.com, Warner said.

West Virginia: West Virginia officials want other states to adopt online voting for deployed troops | Zach England/Military Times

West Virginia was the first state to allow a mobile voting app option for military members — and officials there are hoping others will follow. In 2018, the state offered overseas and military voters the option of using a mobile phone or tablet to vote in an election. In the general election that year, 144 voters stationed in 31 different countries were able to vote using the technology. The mobile voting app was the result of West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner’s interest in breaking down barriers preventing servicemembers from easy access to the polls. During almost three decades in the Army, Warner experienced the difficulties of voting overseas. Roughly 200,000 Americans are deployed overseas and in 2016, less than 20 percent of active duty troops voted, Warner said in an op-ed submission earlier this month. “The less than 20% figure weighs on me heavily,” he wrote. “This is an appalling statistic, and one that should be personally offensive to every American. The current COVID-19 pandemic should serve as the catalyst to leverage technology to correct the disenfranchisement of the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our democracy.”

West Virginia: Half of West Virginia voters cast their ballots by mail in June. Election officials wonder if they’ll have the legal authority and manpower to make it happen again. | Lacie Pierson/WV Gazette Mail

A little more than half of the more than 436,000 ballots cast in West Virginia’s 2020 primary election earlier this month were mail-in absentee ballots, Secretary of State Mac Warner said Monday. For comparison, historically in West Virginia, about 3% of votes in a presidential primary election are cast by absentee ballot, Warner said. In total, 224,734 ballots were cast by mail, according to the secretary of state’s website, meaning more work and more paperwork for the state’s 55 county clerks, their staffs and often the staffs from other county courthouse offices that were off limits to in-person visits early during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Now, with the election behind them, Warner said he and county clerks are working to figure out what their options are for the November general election, especially if there’s no state of emergency that gives them and, most importantly, Mountain State voters, flexibility to vote without potentially exposing themselves to the virus.

West Virginia: The pandemic primary created challenges for election officials. Now, they’re preparing to repeat the process in November. | Politics | Lacie Pierson/Charleston Gazette Mail

Less than 24 hours after the polls closed for West Virginia’s 2020 primary election, Secretary of State Mac Warner said there were a lot of lessons learned and more work to do if officials are going to repeat the process in November amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Employees in county clerks’ offices throughout the state already had received approximately 217,885 absentee ballots as of Wednesday, and another 44,468 absentee ballots still were outstanding, according to the secretary of state’s website. County clerks and voter canvassing boards have plenty more work to do beyond waiting for the remaining absentee ballots to come back in, Warner said, but while that work is being completed, West Virginians and county clerks should be proud of their extra efforts to make this a “smooth and clean” election. “The election worked, but there are lessons to be learned from this,” Warner said. “I’m anxious to let the [county] clerks get through the canvassing process and talk to them about what worked, what didn’t work, what their recommendations are, should we get into this situation in November.”

West Virginia: What a mail carrier says was a small, joking attempt at voter fraud shows just how closely officials are watching | Kelly Mena and Rebekah Riess/CNN

A case of alleged election fraud that a West Virginia mail carrier says was a joking attempt to alter ballot requests shows just how closely local and federal officials are watching. According to a complaint written by an investigator working for the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, Thomas Cooper, 47, of Dry Fork, West Virginia, and a mail carrier for Pendleton County, was joking when he altered ballot requests sent by some people on his delivery route, changing their party affiliations from Democrat to Republican. The complaint goes on to note that the local clerk knew the people named on the ballot requests weren’t Republicans and gave them a call. The revelation launched an investigation by the West Virginia Election Fraud Task Force, led by assistant US attorneys from the Northern and Southern districts of West Virginia, special agents from the FBI and investigators from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, and an attempted election fraud charge against Cooper. US Attorney Bill Powell announced on the charge on Tuesday.

West Virginia: Online Voting Has Worked So Far. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Safe | Lily Hay Newman/WIRED

West Virginia state delegate Eric Porterfield is blind and usually votes at a polling place using an accessible voting machine. He would need assistance to fill out a regular mail-in paper ballot, reducing his ability to keep his votes private. But thanks to a state law passed in January to address accessible remote voting, Porterfield has a new alternative for his state’s June 9 primary. For the first time, he plans to submit his absentee ballot online. “The gold standard for you or me or anyone is to be able to fulfill our constitutional right to vote by private ballot,” Porterfield says. The Covid-19 pandemic has made internet voting options more tempting than ever for election officials across the US. But election integrity advocates and security experts continue to warn that remote digital voting systems, whether mobile apps or cloud portals, do not have strong enough security guarantees for prime time. On Friday, a group of federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Election Assistance Commission sent a risk assessment to states, warning that “electronic ballot return technologies are high-risk even with controls in place.”

West Virginia: Governor again urges in-person voting over mail-in absentee | Jeff Jenkins /WV MetroNews

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Secretary of State Mac Warner issued a joint fraud alert Thursday in connection with the June 9 Primary Election while Gov. Jim Justice continued to encourage voters to choose in-person voting over mail-in absentee. Morrisey said the fraud alert is taking an additional step to protect voters. “We know that fraud occurs more frequently when we’re dealing with some of these mail-in absentee ballots,” Morrisey said. All voters in West Virginia have the option to request a mail-in absentee ballot because of the coronavirus pandemic. The voters have received postcards from the county clerks in their counties. Clerks will begin mailing ballots out next week. Gov. Justice used his daily media briefing Thursday to once again urge voters to choose to go to the polls in person on June 9.

West Virginia: Legislators call for mail-only voting for primary election, Warner says current options are safe | Lacie Pierson/Charleston Gazette-Mail

West Virginia Democratic legislators are asking Gov. Jim Justice and Secretary of State Mac Warner to go one step further in making voting accessible amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic during the 2020 election cycle. A group of legislators on Wednesday sent out a news release asking Gov. Jim Justice to declare the state’s June 9 Primary Election a vote-by-mail-only election, as opposed to the current situation that allows all eligible West Virginia voters the option to vote absentee through the mail. In response to the call-out from the legislators, Secretary of State Mac Warner said he was not an advocate for West Virginia becoming a vote-by-mail-only state, and he wouldn’t implement such a system unless the state Legislature passed a law requiring him to do so. The legislators’ news release didn’t have exact details about how mail-only voting would work other than making it so voters wouldn’t have to physically go to a polling place to cast their vote.

West Virginia: Governor moves primary election to June | David Beard/The Dominion Post

Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday morning that he has moved the primary election date form May 12 to June 9. Also, the return-to-school date has moved from April 20 to April 30. Justice said he made his decision after consulting with Secretary of State Mac Warner and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who both appeared with him at his daily COVID-19 press briefing, and health officials. Justice said he’d hoped to be able to keep the May 12 date, but the projections for the course of the coronavirus spread and the likelihood senior voters wouldn’t be able to appear at polling places dictated otherwise. “Its ever so apparent that that’s absolutely the wrong thing to do,” he said. Assuming schools do re-open April 30, Justice said that the all would be closed by June 6, so June 9 is the first Tuesday after all schools will be closed. “The privilege of voting is unbelievable and we all should remember that,” he said. “I want this to be the biggest turnout of all time.”

West Virginia: Primary rescheduled over fears of virus spread | Anthony Izaguirre/Associated Press

Gov. Jim Justice rescheduled West Virginia’s May 12 primary election to June 9 on Wednesday, citing fears about the coronavirus spreading at polling places. Justice said medical experts told him that having the primary on its originally scheduled date would be unsafe for voters and poll workers, since health officials have warned of a surge in the coming weeks. “There is no question moving this date is the right thing to do,” said Justice, a Republican. Justice said he had wanted to preserve the May primary date, but he has been “bombarded” with requests to postpone the election. He said the new June date will result in fewer people at polling places since it falls after the school year. Secretary of State Mac Warner has said he mailed absentee ballot applications to registered voters in a bid to encourage mail-in voting. The applications should arrive during the first week of April, according to Warner. He said deadlines on those applications, as well as the early voting period, will be extended.

West Virginia: Secretary of State launches plan to send absentee ballot applications to all voters | WHSV

West Virginia is rolling out a plan to send every registered voter in the state an application to vote absentee in upcoming elections as people across the state follow a ‘Stay at Home’ order from the governor amid the COVID-19 outbreak. On Thursday, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner announced that he was issuing guidance and an opportunity for funding for all county clerks to mail absentee ballot applications to every single voter. Voters returning those applications is the first step to be able to receive a ballot by mail in West Virginia, which is the method state leaders are recommending every citizen use to vote as the COVID-19 response goes on. During West Virginia’s state of emergency, every registered voter is eligible to vote absentee by a mail-in ballot for the May 12 primary election.

West Virginia: Pair of delegates urges governor to send absentee ballots to all voters | WV News

Two members of the West Virginia House of Delegates on Monday sent a letter to Gov. Jim Justice urging the institution of voting by mail statewide through absentee ballots. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Secretary of State Mac Warner announced the expansion of the state’s requirements to qualify for an absentee ballot to include health concerns due to the virus. Those who apply for an absentee ballot will be able to cast their vote for the statewide primary election in May by mail. However, Dels. Barbara Evans Fleischauer and Evan Hansen, both D-Monongalia, contend in their letter that this policy does not go far enough to ensure the safety of poll workers and the public. “We think the best solution to safeguard the health of our citizens for the upcoming primary would be to mail ballots to all eligible voters with clear explanations of new procedures for their return to county clerks,” the letter said. According to the delegates, Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean for Health Sciences at WVU, agreed that from a health standpoint, any solution that allows many people to congregate in close quarters and touch machines, pencils and paper is not an optimal solution.

West Virginia: Secretary of State opts for different voting application for electronic absentee ballots | Chris Lawrence/WV MetroNews

The Secretary of State’s office will go with a different vendor as they work to expanded electronic absentee voting in West Virginia during the 2020 election cycle. Secretary of State Mac Warner has announced that for the upcoming primary election, West Virginia will use the Democracy Live electronic voting system after testing the Voatz app in the last election cycle. “They’ve been around for a decade. They’ve participated in elections throughout the United States since 2010 and they have a fully compliant A-D-A functionality in their system which allows a voter who is blind or visually impaired to mark their ballot without assistance,” Deak Kersey, general counsel for the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office said. West Virginia was part of a pilot program in 2018 and allowed members of the military stationed overseas to vote via the Voatz App.The Voatz App was on a mobile phone whereas Democracy Live is on a fixed server. According to Kersey, only 144 voters used the App in West Virginia’s 2018 general election and only 13 during the primary. It was a pilot project and a test.

West Virginia: State will NOT use controversial voting app Voatz during primary elections | Internewscast

West Virginia has announced it will not be using the voting app Voatz app after researchers found it is ‘riddled with vulnerabilities’. The US state employed the technology in 2018 to troops overseas and was also set to implement it in the upcoming primary elections for residents with disabilities  However, the flaws, uncovered earlier this month by MIT engineers, give hackers the ability to alter, stop or expose how an individual users has voted. Secretary of State Mac Warner said on Friday that disabled and overseas voters will now use a service by Democracy Live which lets them log in to fill out a ballot online or print an unmarked ballot and mail it in. West Virginia has announced it will not be using the voting app Voatz app after researchers found it is ‘riddled with vulnerabilities’. The US state employed the technology in 2018 to troops oversease and was also set to implement it in the upcoming primary elections for residents with disabilities  The US state was set to employ Voatz following a new bill that requires counties to provide certain individuals with a type of online ballot-marking device that can be used with a smartphone.

West Virginia: After damaging report, West Virginia moves away from Voatz internet voting app | Anthony Izaguerre/Associated Press

West Virginia is opting not to use a widely criticized voting app in the state’s coming primary elections after a blistering report found potential security flaws in the platform. Donald Kersey, general counsel in the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, said Monday that an MIT analysis of the Voatz app “gave us enough pause” to instead use a different system for the May elections. The decision came as state officials had to choose an online voting system to comply with a new law requiring electronic ballots for people with physical disabilities. Last month, an MIT study found that Voatz, which has mostly been used for absentee ballots from overseas military personnel, has vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to change a person’s vote without detection. The researchers said they were forced to reverse engineer an Android version of the app because the company hasn’t allowed transparent third-party testing of the system. The Voatz app was used to tally fewer than 200 ballots in West Virginia’s 2018 elections and didn’t have any problems, state officials said. The app has also been used in pilots in Denver, Oregon and Utah.

West Virginia: State backtracks on using Voatz smartphone voting app in state primary | Kevin Collier/NBC

In a surprise turnaround, voters with disabilities in West Virginia won’t be voting with their smartphone the state’s primary in May. They’ll instead be able to use a system that prints out their completed ballot, which they can then mail in. Friday afternoon, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner announced that disabled and overseas voters will be able to use a service by Democracy Live, which lets users log in to fill out a ballot online or print one out and maig it in. It’s a sudden pivot from the state’s embrace of Voatz, a smartphone app that aimed to boost turnout by letting people vote from their phone but that has been heavily criticized by cybersecurity experts. A handful of counties across the U.S. have offered Voatz to overseas and military voters in federal elections, as the city of Denver did in its 2019 mayoral election. But West Virginia offered it to counties statewide. On Feb. 5, the state passed a law requiring its counties to give voters with disabilities the option of eceiving ballots electronically, starting with the May 12 primary elections.

West Virginia: State Expands Online Voting as Security Worries Grow | Patrick Groves/Government Technology

West Virginia, which has become an early tester of blockchain voting, is expanding Internet voting to include those with physical disabilities. But the move comes just as researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have published a paper asserting that Voatz — the app West Virginia has been using in its pilot tests — has serious flaws, including the ability of bad actors to change votes without voters’ knowledge. Gov. Jim Justice signed SB 94 into law last week giving the secretary of state permission to create a system that allows people with physical disabilities to vote electronically. The Office of the Secretary of State lauded its success with Boston-based vendor Voatz that tallied 144 ballots from uniformed and overseas citizens in 2018. The Secretary of State’s Office may choose the startup again to enact the new law’s mandate for the 2020 primary and general elections. But election security experts and computer scientists have grown increasingly skeptical of the cybersecurity surrounding voting apps, especially after a mobile app used during the Iowa Caucus recorded data accurately but only reported it partially due to a coding error.

West Virginia: Security dangers of online voting don’t deter West Virginia | The Fulcrum

West Virginia is looking to become the first state to allow disabled people to vote using their smartphones. Republican Gov. Jim Justice is expected to sign legislation, which breezed through the GOP-controlled Legislature last month, requiring all counties to provide an online balloting option to anyone who cannot use a regular voting machine because of physical disability. The new law puts West Virginia more firmly on one side of the ease-versus-security divide in the debate over modernizing voting systems. In the wake of hacking attempts by Russian operatives during the 2016 election, almost all the experts on ways to prevent such interference are opposed to online voting of any sort. At the same time, advocates are pushing hard for methods making voting plausible for the one in eight Americans with a disability. In 2018 West Virginia became the first state to create a mobile application for voting, but it was only available to members of the military stationed abroad. It was used by 147 West Virginians with homes in 24 countries to cast their midterm ballots for Congress and state offices.

West Virginia: State plans to make smartphone voting available to disabled people for 2020 election | Kevin Collier/NBC

West Virginia is moving to become the first state to allow people with disabilities to use technology that would allow them to vote with their smartphones in the 2020 election. Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, plans to sign a bill by early next week that will require all counties to provide some form of online ballot-marking device to every voter with physical disabilities, according to West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner. Warner, the state’s chief election official, said that he would most likely provide counties with the smartphone app Voatz or a similar app, making the choice easy for cash-strapped counties. But cybersecurity experts have long railed against apps like Voatz, saying that any kind of online voting unnecessarily increases security risks. “Mobile voting systems completely run counter to the overwhelming consensus of every expert in the field,” said Matt Blaze, a computer scientist at Georgetown University and a seasoned election security researcher. “This is incredibly unwise.”

West Virginia: Bill To Allow Internet Voting For West Virginians With Disabilities Passes Legislature | West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed a bill that would allow voters with certain disabilities to vote electronically in the upcoming election.  Senate Bill 94 will provide West Virginians with disabilities the same electronic voting ability the West Virginia Secretary of State allowed for overseas military members in 2018. It’s the first bill both chambers of the Legislature have voted on this year. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for final approval. Donald Kersey, general counsel to the Secretary of State’s office, said Thursday qualifying voters will know within a month what kind of electronic voting methods will be available to them, assuming Gov. Jim Justice signs the bill. He said because Tusk-Montgomery Philanthropies, a mobile voting advocacy group, has offered to pay for the associated equipment, implementing the bill won’t cost anything to the state or the counties responsible for offering and collecting the ballots. The same group covered mobile voting costs in the last election.

West Virginia: Mobile absentee voting proposed for people with disabilities | Steven Allen Adams/News and Sentinel

A mobile phone app used by deployed military service members to vote overseas could be the answer for helping people with disabilities and the blind to vote absentee, though concerns were raised Monday about potential hacking. Senate Bill 94 was introduced Jan. 8 by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, at the request of Secretary of State Mac Warner. The bill would provide West Virginians with physical disabilities the ability to vote by an electronic absentee ballot. The bill easily made it through the state Senate eight days later, passing unanimously Jan. 15 as the first bill to cross over from the Senate to the House of Delegates. The House Judiciary Committee took up the bill Monday morning and was still talking about the bill Monday afternoon. The bill was recommended for passage and will be sent to the full House.

West Virginia: Judiciary Committee Will Recommend Electronic Absentee Voting Bill For People With Disabilities | Emily Allen/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the Joint Judiciary Committees voted Monday to recommend a bill to their respective chambers, allowing voters with certain physical disabilities to cast absentee ballots electronically. Currently, West Virginia allows voters with qualifying impairments to cast paper mail-in votes, as long as they’re on a special absentee voting list maintained by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office. But, according to Jeremiah Underhill, legal director for the group Disability Rights of West Virginia, navigating a piece of paper can be an impediment for someone who has a serious hand or visual impairment. “Voting is a fundamental right that is preserved in the U.S. Constitution,” Underhill told the committee. “Everyone is afforded a legal opportunity to vote.”

West Virginia: ES&S software upgrade allow judicial races to move higher up on ballots | Phil Kabler/Charleston Gazette-Mail

A software upgrade that will allow voting systems used in 33 West Virginia counties to rearrange the ballot order to comply with a new law moving nonpartisan judicial elections higher up on May primary election ballots was approved Tuesday by the State Election Commission. The updated version of the ExpressVote System, produced by Elections Systems and Software, will allow county clerks to customize ballots, necessary under legislation passed by the Legislature in March changing the ballot location for nonpartisan judicial elections. Under the new law, beginning with the May 2020 primary election, judicial elections will appear on the ballot after national, state and legislative races, and ahead of county offices and other nonpartisan races. The change was prompted by concern from some legislators that, on long primary ballots, some voters might be failing to vote in judicial elections, which, in 2016 and 2018, were at the foot of the ballot, and frequently were on the back of a two-sided ballot.

West Virginia: The FBI is investigating West Virginia’s blockchain-based midterm elections | Matthew De Silva/Quartz

During the 2018 midterm elections, somebody tried to hack Voatz, the blockchain-based voting system used by West Virginia. The attack was unsuccessful, but is under investigation by the FBI, said Andrew Warner, West Virginia’s secretary of state in an Oct. 1 press conference. “In last year’s election, we detected activity that may have been an attempt to penetrate West Virginia’s mobile voting process,” said Warner. “No penetration occurred and the security protocols to protect our election process worked as designed. The IP addresses from which the attempts were made have been turned over to the FBI for investigation. The investigation will determine if crimes were committed.” The hacking attempt may have stemmed from an election security class at the University of Michigan, CNN reported Friday (Oct. 4). Last November, 144 West Virginian voters—including active members of the US military serving overseas—used Boston-based Voatz, a blockchain-enabled smartphone application, to cast their ballots for the Senate and House of Representatives as well as for state and local offices. That’s a small number, but could be consequential, especially in close races. Four seats in West Virginia’s House of Delegates were decided by less than 150 votes.