By WARREN SCOTT
The Weirton Daily Times
WELLSBURG, W.Va. — The West Virginia secretary of state visited the Brooke County Courthouse on Monday to talk about efforts to make voter registration efforts more accurate.
Secretary of State Mac Warner said when he entered office earlier this year he was encouraged to drop the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit organization aimed at improving the accuracy of voter registration records and access to voter registration.
Warner said as one of 20 states served by E.R.I.C., West Virginia pays about $30,000 per year for its services.
He noted when the state enrolled in the system last fall under the previous administration, hundreds of thousands of cards were sent to West Virginia residents advising them of their eligibility to register.
Unfortunately, many of the recipients were dead or already registered. The cards went out just weeks before the election, resulting in numerous calls being made to county election clerks, Warner said.
The problem wasn’t the system, he said, but that in West Virginia, “it hadn’t been rolled out properly.”
Warner said benefits to the system include the ability to identify voters who are registered in duplicate states. He estimates that tens of thousands of West Virginians have moved to other states without advising their former counties to cancel their registrations.
Warner added his office has worked with the state Division of Corrections to identify residents ineligible to vote because they have been convicted of crimes.
He said at least 1,170 felons have been eliminated from voter registration files, and county election clerks will receive periodic updates of others.
Pam Northcraft, Brooke County elections clerk, said in the past her department had been advised when convicts could vote again but not when they had been jailed so they were never taken off the rolls.
Warner said efforts are being made to remove deceased residents from voter registration records using data not previously available.
He said such measures have resulted in about 47,000 names being removed from voter registration files.
County Clerk Sylvia Benzo told Warner good communication is key to a good working relationship between state and county election officials.
“If you have that communication with us, we’re going to say, let’s get this done,” she said.
In a meeting with Benzo, Northcraft and County Commissioner Tim Ennis, Warner discussed efforts to make business licenses, tax forms and other relevant documents more readily available to potential new businesses.
Warner said he’s working to establish a website and call center through which businesses may obtain a variety of information and documents related to operating in the state.
See more from The Weirton Daily Times