Charleston, W.Va. — Secretary of State Mac Warner took time today to congratulate West Virginia’s 55 county clerks for achieving a remarkable milestone relating to voter list maintenance. For the first time in recent history, every West Virginia county now has less registered voters than citizens of the voting-age population.
When Warner ran for Secretary of State in 2016, a number of frustrated county clerks brought to Warner’s attention a disconnect between the Secretary of State’s office and the desire of the clerks to do list maintenance as directed by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). In fact, there were several counties that had more registered voters than they did actual residents of voting age. Warner made voter list maintenance the foundation of his campaign and vowed to work closely with clerks to correct the situation.
Warner was elected and took office in 2017. He worked with his staff to provide the technology clerks needed to ensure efficiency and accuracy in the voter list maintenance process. Together, they turned a manual, mostly paper procedure into a streamlined, automated process. They made voter lists accurate, and invested in infrastructure to improve the registration system while staying within strict conformance to NVRA guidelines.
Over the last four years, more than 313,000 outdated, duplicate, deceased, out of state or convicted felon voter files have been removed from the state's voter registration lists.
"Bloated rolls and increased opportunities for improprieties exist when voter lists aren't kept up to date," Warner said. "Today, I congratulate all 55 county clerks and my Elections Division for making these advancements. By leveraging technology and making list maintenance a top priority, we've removed West Virginia from the conversation of delinquent states that do not properly maintain voter lists.”
Prior to Warner taking office, West Virginia had a number of counties with more registered voters than citizens of voting age – a situation that created opportunities for fraud and caused a lack of confidence in our elections. In fact, West Virginia’s then inaccurate and outdated voter rolls attracted the attention of election watchdog groups, some of which threatened to bring legal action to force voter list clean up. According to Judicial Watch, one of those watchdog groups, such lawsuits have historically been initiated or threatened against several states including California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
In 2017, Warner began working closely with clerks and made known West Virginia’s strong efforts to correct the situation. Under state and federal law, clerks must remove outdated records, but the process can take several years.
“What was needed,” said Warner, “was attention to detail, determination to get the job done, and the tools to accomplish the task. That is what we did alongside the 55 county clerks, and now we’ve achieved the objective. West Virginia will never go back to what we faced before I took office. With the action completed today, West Virginia is now a shining example of clean and properly administered elections, not a target of scorn.”
Over the last four years, Warner and his staff also worked closely with county clerks to identify eligible voters and encouraged them to register to vote. Since January 2017, Warner’s administration has helped county clerks to register 244,245 live, eligible West Virginia residents to vote.
Notably, over 67,000 high school students have registered as part of the Secretary of State's Jennings Randolph Program. The late West Virginia U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph was the “Father of the 26th Amendment" that reduced the national voting age from 21 to 18. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1971 ratification of the 26th Amendment.