Editorial: Honest elections critical for trust

The Journal editorial

Earlier this month, we commended West Virginia county clerks and Secretary of State Mac Warner for cleaning up voter registration rolls. Working together, his office and county officials had removed 36,635 names from the list of people eligible to vote in our state.

What a difference a few weeks makes. By this week, the number was up to about 47,000.

For years, few — if any — serious efforts were made to ensure voter registration lists in our state did not include the names of dead people, those who had moved or those who, perhaps because they were imprisoned on felony charges, were not eligible to vote. In a few counties, voter registration totals were higher than the number of residents 18 years old or more.

Then, in just three months, a sea change occurred.

How did that happen and why did it not occur previously?

Warner’s office tells us county officials throughout the state were eager to clean up voter registration lists. All they needed was leadership from the secretary of state’s office and help with the mechanics.

Since Warner took office in mid-January, the county clerks have received both. The results have been excellent.

As we noted a few weeks ago, 11 states are being threatened with lawsuits because their voter registration rolls are in deplorable condition. Ours is not one of those states.

It might have been, just a few months ago, when former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant was in office.

West Virginia has a long, sordid history of election fraud. Even during recent years, a few situations have occurred and, thankfully, been detected by law enforcement officials.

Honest elections, decided by West Virginians eligible by law to vote, are critical to our faith in local, state and national government. They also are an important aspect of rebuilding our economy by bringing new businesses here. Who wants to open up shop in a corrupt state, after all?

Good for Warner, then, and good for the county officials who seem just as intent on ensuring our elections are above reproach.

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