Endorsements, Opinion

Endorsement: Tennant deserves third term as WV secretary of state

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Overseeing elections isn’t the only task performed by the state’s Secretary of State, but it is a major one.

From voter registration, to signing up as a candidate, to the actual voting processes, the Secretary of State’s duties are plentiful and challenging.

Besides being the chief elections officer, the Secretary of State also is in charge of registering businesses, corporations and charities, as well as authenticating state documents.

 In the past, the position has been used by some as a launching pad to other public office, notably by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who went from Secretary of State to governor and now his current position.

Current officeholder Natalie Tennant has also tried that path to an extent, running for the unexpired term of governor when Manchin left to run for Senate, as well as for the Senate seat vacated when Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., retired.

Tennant’s efforts weren’t successful, but she was easily re-elected in 2012, earning more than 60 percent of the vote.

As Secretary of State, Tennant has improved the office in streamlining business registration and implementing online processes.

She also has championed automatic and online voting registration, which makes registering to vote a much easier process.

And she has worked with the Legislature to provide a database that shows Freedom of Information Act requests and the action taken.

“We’re the third state in the nation to pass legislation on automatic voter registration,” Tennant told The Exponent Telegram. “That gets government out of the way. Additionally, our online voter registration has also been a huge success.”

 She says the use of online resources has increased transparency not only in her office, but across state government.

“We make a lot of information available online, so it’s easy for the public and the media to get to it,” Tennant said. “We have a Freedom of Information Act database on our website. We also do web chats to give an unfiltered look at government. I pride myself in that — that’s the accountability that I bring to the office.”

If Tennant has shortcomings, it would be her office’s failure to communicate some of her goals and programs, which has drawn criticism from some county clerks, who are the top election officials in their respective areas.

Tennant — and West Virginia residents — would be well served to improve that communication in her next term.

Still, that flaw isn’t enough to cost her the job despite viable challengers who possess knowledge and talent, but lack the state government experience that drives Tennant’s candidacy.

With those factors in mind, The Exponent Telegram endorses Natalie Tennant for a third term as Secretary of State.

See more from The Exponent Telegram. 

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