Online voter registration successful, Tennant says

In the three weeks since its launch, online voter registration has been a success, allowing several hundred West Virginians to register to vote using their computers, smartphones or tablets, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said.

“Its quite successful and we’re proud of it,” Tennant told the State Elections Commission on Wednesday.

So far, the process has been glitch-free, she said.

It requires completing an online form on the Secretary of State’s website, www.wv.sos.gov, and once the information is verified by the Division of Motor Vehicles, it is sent on to the appropriate county clerk, who double-checks the information, assigns the individual to the proper precinct and mails out the voter registration card.

“Each county clerk receives a message each morning of how many registrations they have to process,” Layna Brown, Elections Division director, said.

The county clerks still have the ultimate authority to approve voter registration applications, Tennant said.

Tennant also said the DMV has been a “wonderful partner in this,” since the DMV has to verify that the applicant has a valid state driver’s license or state identification card.

“There are several different steps of security that are in place for the online registration,” Tennant said.

“My concern is that a person has a right to vote, even if they don’t have an ID issued by the DMV,” Elections Commission Chairman Gary Collias commented.

Tennant pointed out that persons without drivers licenses or DMV-assigned identification can still register to vote at their county clerks’ offices, and Brown said the paper application form can be downloaded from the Secretary of State’s website.

West Virginia is the 24th state to adopt online voter registration, which was authorized by the Legislature in the 2013 regular session.

Also Wednesday, commissioners approved withdrawing three obsolete legislative rules regarding elections, including rules for absentee voting by active duty military that was superseded in 2009 with expansion of the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

Tennant reminded commissioners that the filing period for candidates for 2016 elections will open Monday, Jan. 11, and close at midnight on Saturday, Jan. 30.

“It’s become a custom here — it’s not a statutory requirement — that we stay open to midnight on that Saturday,” Tennant said.

Candidate filings that are postmarked by midnight on the 30th are also valid, she said.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1220, or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

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