By Mac WarnerWest Virginia Secretary of State
Charleston, W.Va.— The candidates have made their case, the ads have run, the funds are spent and the campaigns have been fought. It’s show time!
Now, it’s up to you, the voter. If you don’t get out and vote, everything that’s gone into this midterm election is for naught. The very cornerstone of our democracy is laid when you place your ballot in the ballot box.
With Election Day just around the corner, I want to draw your attention to the larger picture of “civic engagement.” While the act of voting is key, elections consist of much more than casting a ballot. That is why the Secretary of State’s Office has run an eight-week “ Project Election Protection.”
If someone double votes, buys a vote, intimidates a voter, or otherwise manipulates the process of a fair election, your vote is diluted. The premise of “one person, one vote” gets diminished. That is why this election, I am calling on everyone to be civic-minded and watch out for irregularities. We want to make this the best Election Day in our state’s history.
First, I encourage you to check your registration and polling location before heading to the polls to ensure a smooth and issue-free experience. You can find voting locations and operating hours at www.GoVoteWV.com
Second, remember the state’s Voter Identification Law went into effect this year, and you must now show one valid form of identification to vote. A complete list of acceptable identification can be found here: Be Registered and Ready to Vote!. Keep in mind that no one gets turned away from the polls. Even if you should have to vote a provisional ballot for reasons like a recent move or a lack of voter ID, we encourage every registered person to vote.
Third, as we enter the final hours of this election cycle, many people, groups and committees will take to the airwaves to make final pitches to influence your vote. Many folks have questions about disclaimers and spending for these ads. Some groups are required to file with our office, some file with the Federal Election Commission and others are exempt altogether. If you have a question about these “stand by your ads” disclaimers or the spending for the commercials, call our office at (877) FRAUD-WV or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fourth, at the polls you may find new machines or technology to assist in casting your ballot. Recently, our office was able to secure $6.5 million through the “Help America Vote Act.” Including matching funds from your county resources, more than $12 million in improvements are underway here in West Virginia alone. Have no fear, these upgrades have been approved by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, our State Election Commission and approved by layers of independent testing companies and your local government officials. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask. Our county clerks will be happy to assist you.
Finally, I ask you to provide an extra set of eyes and ears to combat election fraud. If you see any suspicious campaign or election activity, call us at (877) FRAUD-WV or file a complaint with our Investigations Unit. Our investigators will be blanketing the state through this election.
Things to watch for: someone within 100 feet of the polls handing out “slates” or trying to persuade you to vote a certain way; candidates or supporters giving away free food, drinks and other things of value to voters at or near the polling places on Election Day; someone being “helped to vote” in a voting booth when the voter is not disabled or does not require “assistance”; persons taking a photo or recording themselves voting; and, anyone being pressured to vote a certain way by someone else. If you believe someone has voted illegally, you should file an affidavit with the poll workers or county clerk challenging the ballot. This is an immediate way to keep elections clean and fair.
Remember, if you “See Something, Say Something!”
We, the voters of West Virginia, are about to take part in one of America’s most basic freedoms—the right to decide our government officials. Our Declaration of Independence acknowledged our God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, stating “that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” – that is, via elections. On Tuesday, be civic minded, exercise your right to vote and help protect the integrity of our elections throughout West Virginia.
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