By Mac Warner
West Virginia Secretary of State
Last week, I attended my first series of meetings hosted by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). NASS was founded in 1904 and is the oldest non-partisan organization of public officials in the country. The group gives secretaries of state from all 50 states, as well as all U.S. territories, an opportunity to meet to exchange information, concerns, and ideas in an effort to develop sound public policy at the state and national level.
The NASS Winter Conference took place in Washington, D.C. from Feb. 15-18. I was honored to accept appointments to the Standing Committee on Elections, the Standing Committee on Voter Participation, and the Standing Committee on Business Services. I’ll also be serving on the International Relations and Cybersecurity committees. For four days, these committee meetings provided me an exceptional opportunity to learn about issues important to the effective oversight and implementation of the responsibilities of the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.
I attended seminars and workshops on issues such as making offices more transparent to the general public; secure voter registration; cyber security; using technology to improve the election day experience for voters; and how to improve voter turnout. At the end of the day, it is my responsibility to ensure that elections are run fairly and efficiently.
I held discussions with other secretaries of state on how our office can be more user-friendly for businesses, and improve the registrations and annual reports process. For example, the State of Ohio has moved all business registration online which saves money, reduces errors, and expedites the registration process for new businesses. Moving more of our services online will save West Virginia money, and having our Field Representatives across the state will help business owners when they need one-on-one guidance. It is our goal to have 90 percent of all West Virginia businesses registered online by next year.
It was reassuring to me to know that other states are experiencing the same challenges we’re facing here in West Virginia. And it was nice to hear some of the new ideas and solutions that are working in other states. I’m thankful for the advice and assistance from my fellow secretaries of state, including Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. I left the conference convinced more than ever that the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office has the right team in the right place at the right time to address these challenges.