Charleston, W.Va. Secretary of State Mac Warner is pleased to announce that his office will work with county clerks across the state to distribute a total of $6.5 million in federal funding to help improve election security throughout the state. According to Warner, this funding will allow West Virginia to continue to be a leader nationally in providing safe and secure elections utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and advanced training for election workers.
The $6.5 million for West Virginia comes from two rounds of congressional funding through the “Help America Vote Act” or HAVA. Earlier this year, Congress allocated $380 million to assist state election officials throughout the country. West Virginia qualified for $3.6 million of the recent allocation. The remainder of the $6.5 million Warner is making available to counties comes from funds provided by the West Virginia legislature from an underutilized program that had previously been used for equipment loans.
Warner said that West Virginia will focus primarily on election equipment, cybersecurity and training. Funding will also be available to protect and secure election equipment when not in use at election time. According to Warner’s proposal, every new federal dollar received will go directly to the counties to bolster their election systems.
““Election security is national security and West Virginia has taken bold moves since the 2016 elections to bolster election security. It is my intent to keep working closely with our county clerks to protect local elections against any and all threats to our democratic processes,” Warner said.
Prior to being elected Secretary of State, Warner served 23 years in the United States Army. He retired with the rank of Lt. Colonel.
West Virginia submitted a comprehensive plan on how the state would distribute the federal HAVA funding now available. A grant program and a separate loan program will be administered by Warner’s office with the assistance of an appointed HAVA Grant Advisory Board which includes county clerks. The HAVA Grant Advisor Board had its first meeting on Friday, July 20th at 9:00am.
According to Elections Division Director Donald Kersey, the Secretary of State’s office has been preparing county clerks for the HAVA funding application process. He said that Warner wants to expedite the funding process to be better prepared for the 2018 General Election in November.
“Secretary Warner has developed a great working relationship with our county clerks. We know that funding at the local level for new equipment is difficult in many of our counties. So securing federal funds for our local officials whenever possible is a priority for us,” Kersey said.
West Virginia’s elections are based in paper guaranteeing a voter verified paper trail cast by non-UOCAVA voters. The paper based system allows West Virginia to perform post-election audits of votes cast to ensure confidence in our systems.
In addition to the recent funding opportunity for local election officials, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office has made many other advances to protect election systems including a partnership with the West Virginia National Guard and the West Virginia Fusion Center to increase monitoring and communication of threat actors. Preparations are underway for additional security and training of West Virginia’s local election officials.