Cleaning up voter registrations

A column by Mike Myer, executive editor of The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Lincoln County has 17,902 registered voters, according to the West Virginia secretary of state’s website.

Lincoln County has about 16,710 residents 18 years of age or older, according to the Census Bureau.

Yes, you have to be 18 to vote in the Mountain State.

Somehow, during her seven years as the state’s chief election officer, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and Lincoln County officials haven’t managed to do anything about the fact the county has nearly 1,200 more people on the voter registration rolls than it has residents eligible to vote.

But Lincoln County isn’t alone. A check of all 55 counties revealed 49 of them with voter registration totals well below their numbers of people eligible to cast ballots.

Only Lincoln County is on the wrong side of the equation. But, again using Census figures for residents 18 and older, Mingo, Wyoming, Monroe, Tucker and Wirt are close. Below are their registered voter totals, followed by their 18-and-older populations:

Mingo – 20,010 and 20,033.

Wyoming – 17,428 and 17,763.

Monroe – 10,424 and 10,744.

Tucker – 5,501 and 5,743.

Wirt – 4,505 and 4,618.

Either folks in those counties have really good voter registration drives or … well, you get the idea.

That’s one reason Tennant is in trouble this election year. If you doubt that, consider the fact she’s opposed in her own primary election.

Challenging Tennant in the Democrat primary is House of Delegates member Patsy Trecost of Bridgeport. He’s a personable young man who at one time served on Clarksburg City Council, then ran for the House in 2014. During a year in which Democrats didn’t do well in much of the state, Trecost finished second among eight candidates in the 48th District. Only Tim Miley, who’s House minority leader, did better.

Tennant’s one-time support of President Barack Obama won’t be good for her, either. That’s the main reason that when she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014, she was trounced soundly by the Republican winner, Sen. Shelley Capito, who got more than 62 percent of the votes to Tennant’s 34.5 percent.

My guess is that neither Tennant nor Trecost will be our next secretary of state. Sentiment against anyone of the same party as Obama remains strong.

There are two Republican candidates for the post. Mac Warner, a familiar name to many West Virginians, is one. The other is Barry Holstein of Cross Lanes.

Warner, an Army veteran who just returned to the state after five years as a State Department contractor in Afghanistan, has the best shot at winning the race. After spending five years trying to teach the Afghans about justice, he’s ready to tackle West Virginia. Expect him to do well throughout the state – except in those southern counties where those high voter registration numbers are composed mostly of Democrats.

Both Democrat candidates for president, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, insist the nation needs a big “carbon tax” to combat global warming. They’re talking tens of billions of dollars collected from companies that generate substantial emissions of carbon dioxide. Their targets are anyone who burns coal or natural gas.

Stop and think about their plan, whether you favor use of coal and gas to generate electricity or not.

Why does it have to be a tax?

If the idea is solely to discourage utilities and other industries from burning coal and gas, are there not other deterrents? Couldn’t the government decide how badly it wants to penalize the companies and order them to send that amount back to customers in the form of rebates? That could blunt somewhat the impact of higher electric bills due to government regulations making coal-fired power more expensive to generate.

Ah, but as Clinton and Sanders are well aware, that would mean the tens of billions of dollars wouldn’t go to Washington.

Beginning to get the idea?

Myer can be reached at: [email protected].

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