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Voter info updates needed


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — In an effort to keep the state’s voter registration rolls as up to date as possible, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday mailed about 130,000 postcards to registered voters whose addresses have been flagged as outdated.

By updating voter registrations, West Virginia Elections Director Donald Kersey said the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office is not only complying with the duties outlined in the National Voter Registration Act but is also ensuring the integrity of any election.

“By keeping these lists up to date, we increase the integrity of our election and we decrease the possibility for someone to vote (illegally),” Kersey said.

For those who do receive a postcard, Kersey said it is simply a request for the registered voter to update his or her address. Voters who receive a postcard can update their addresses online at or complete the postage prepaid postcard and place it back in the mail. This will allow county clerks to update voters’ addresses.

Kersey said the roughly 130,000 registered voters represent about 11 percent of the total population of registered voters. He added that by updating the state’s voter registration rolls, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office is able to get an accurate picture of voter turnout.

“If you have 1 million registered voters on your rolls but it turns out only 800,000 should be on the rolls, your voter turnout percentage is going to be extremely low compared to the actual turnout,” he said.

Those who will receive postcards in the coming days and weeks were flagged by an outside organization called the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), Kersey said.

ERIC is a nonprofit organization with the sole mission of assisting states to improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increase access to voter registration for all eligible citizens.

ERIC is used by 20 states as well as Washington, D.C., and allows states to input voter data to a secure network. Each state’s data is then cross-referenced with other states in order to identify duplicates or irregularities.

“For example, if you go to the DMV in Kentucky and you register to vote there and don’t tell your county clerk that you just left, you’ll have two active voter registrations in two states,” Kersey said. “That decreases voter turnout, it decreases the integrity of our elections and it provides an opportunity for someone to actually vote in the same elections twice.”

“This doesn’t mean that they can’t vote; they can still vote. It just means that your time clock has started,” he said.

If voters move to another county or state and do not reply to requests to update their voter registration information, their name still remains on the rolls of the county they previously lived in for the next two federal elections, Kersey said. After that, if the voter does not make any attempt to update his or her registration or vote in a local, state or federal election, the voter is removed from the rolls.

“That’s a long way down the road, so if a voter gets this postcard in two months because of some mixup at the post office or because their forwarding mail took a while, it’s not a problem,” Kersey said. “All they have to do is get online and update, and they’re good to go.”

While there is no deadline, Kersey said he encourages voters to update their registration prior to Sept. 18, which is the deadline to register for the Oct. 7 special election on a proposed bond issue for road improvements in West Virginia.

Voters will decide on a bond measure that would allow for an additional $1.8 billion in funding for proposed road construction and maintenance projects – an initiative proposed by Gov. Jim Justice. He added that the postcards will also not result in the immediate cancellation of any voter registrations unless a voter specifically requests his or her registration to be canceled or a voter confirms he or she has permanently moved out of West Virginia.

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