By Donald “Deak” Kersey, Esq.Elections Division Director& Deputy Legal Counsel
Charleston, W.Va.—Secretary of State Mac Warner initiated an 8-week program called “Project Election Protection” to educate the public on election security, proper conduct during the election and illegal campaign activities. This project is designed to provide our voters with the greatest confidence in the integrity of our election processes and final results. Secretary Warner is passionate about compliance with the law and ending illegal electioneering in West Virginia, as well as ensuring that our elections are free, secure and fair at every level of the process.
The WV Secretary of State’s Office has been working very closely with all 55 county clerks since the Primary Election to prepare for the upcoming November 6th General Election. All of that preparation, training, voter registration, voter roll list maintenance and equipment upgrades support one of the most important aspects of democracy: electing public officials to represent state and local interests when considering laws and regulations by which we all must abide.
The Secretary of State’s Office and its experienced team of investigators are ready for the General Election. The county clerks and their staff are ready. The poll workers are trained and up-to-speed on the latest processes and laws. And I’m hopeful this op-ed will encourage registered voters to be ready as well.
To be ready for the election, all voters need to do is (1) have a valid identification with them when showing up to vote in person (CLICK HERE for a list of acceptable forms of both non-photo and photo ID, as well as a list of exceptions to the voter ID requirement); and (2) be on the lookout for any suspicious or illegal activity.
Some common forms of illegal activity include electioneering of any kind within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling location (or on the property of the county courthouse during the early voting period), voter intimidation, illegal assistance to a voter who does not need assistance, offers to pay for votes and the unauthorized presence of candidates or individuals inside polling locations. Other illegal activity that should be reported includes any voter being refused a ballot, persons taking a photo of their ballot and any other unusual or uncomfortable situation that voters may encounter at the polling place.
If you “See Something, Say Something!” We are counting on YOU, the voter, to quickly report any suspicious or illegal activity to the Secretary of State’s office’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-FRAUD-WV. Our experienced team of investigators will be positioned strategically throughout the state and ready for immediate dispatch. All we need is a tip from a concerned citizen to act swiftly and prevent irreparable harm.
Early voting begins Wednesday, October 24th, and will continue until Saturday, November 3rd. Most early voting locations are in the county’s courthouse. Additionally, some counties will offer early voting satellite locations at designated locations throughout the county. To learn whether your county will have satellite voting locations, please contact your county clerk.
On behalf of Secretary Warner and the entire Elections Division, I encourage each and every registered voter to participate in the upcoming General Election. Our office and the state’s 55 county clerks have gone above and beyond to ensure the integrity of our election processes, and we are hopeful that a high voter turnout will reflect the confidence that West Virginia voters have in our elections.
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