Warner cheers Trump’s voter fraud investigation, wants help to do same in WV

KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail
Secretary of State Mac Warner.

Mac Warner, West Virginia’s new Secretary of State, is following up on President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim of mass voter fraud during the 2016 election and a call for a “major investigation” by seconding the Republican’s call to clean up voter rolls.

After the president complained Wednesday of millions of unsubstantiated cases of voter fraud that he believes cost him the popular vote, Warner sent out a news release championing the need to clean the state’s registration files.”

Warner, who as a candidate suggested open voter registration was a conspiracy of billionaire Democratic donor George Soros, announced that he would “encourage the President to consider federal funding to assist West Virginia and other states demonstrating a sincere willingness to clean up voter registration.”

“Secretary Warner welcomes President Trump’s interest in shining a bright light on the registration and voting process, particularly in places that have had a history of election fraud and irregularities,” the news release said.

Mike Queen, Warner’s Deputy Chief of Staff, said that the news release was not meant to condone Trump’s comments about mass voter fraud, which is unproven. It was meant to emphasize the importance of removing West Virginians that have died and others that no longer qualify as registered voters under state law.

“We think it’s a good thing that the president is focusing on the voter registration issue and duplication,” Queen said. “He wasn’t endorsing carte blanc everything that the president was saying.”

Queen said the news release was meant to differentiate between the unproven allegations of mass fraud and the continuous task of removing people that should no longer be registered in West Virginia counties.

The news release did not cite any instances of voter fraud in West Virginia. But Warner hopes the federal government will provide more resources to help his office to work with county clerks throughout the state to rid the rolls of registered voters who died, who moved outside the county where they registered and who are registered more than once.

On Wednesday, national news outlets revealed that the last category — people who are registered twice — includes Steve Bannon, the former executive of Breitbart News who is now operating as one of Trump’s chief White House advisers.

In Warner’s news release, he says that he will provide the resources to county clerks to “clean-up the voter files” and “tighten up the voter registration process.”

For instance, they hope the Trump administration will make it easier to use Social Security data to “purge” those who have died from the rolls.

In recent years, Republican-led legislatures throughout the country have moved to pass legislation that would increase voter identification laws, which research has shown impacts segments of the population that are more likely to vote Democratic. Some of those laws have been the subject of federal court cases.

Late last year, after Warner cast one of West Virginia’s five electoral votes for Trump, he said that he would be working with the Republican-led legislature on different types of legislation related to the Secretary of State’s Office. He did not specify what those bills might entail.

According to Warner’s release, he believes that “tightening up” voter registration is a pro-business policy.

“Participation in free and fair elections begins with an accurate voter registration process backed up by accurate and up-to-date voter files,” Warner said. “When elections are free and fair, businesses are more likely to flourish. Everything we do is focused on job creation, and clean elections are fundamental to a thriving economy.”

Reach Andrew Brown at andrew.brown@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow @Andy_Ed_Brown on Twitter.

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