By SARAH GOODRICH
Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT, W.Va. — President Donald Trump recently shared his thoughts on investigating voter fraud, however, local Marion County officials have not seen voter fraud as an issue for the area.
“In this area, in Marion County specifically, I feel that (voter security) doesn’t need strengthened terribly, simply because we have a lot of safeguards that protect against voter fraud,” said Julie Kincaid, deputy county clerk for Marion County. “I work diligently daily to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Kincaid explained that the Marion County clerks receive voters’ registration online from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office. The registrations are then intercepted in the event that a voter may be registered in some other area.
“It goes by many variables as far as their date of birth, their maiden name, the last four of their social (security number), which they have to provide when they register to vote,” she said.
Kincaid also stated that she’s not saying voter fraud isn’t possible, but that it is highly unlikely that someone can be registered to vote in more than one county or state, especially in the local area.
The courthouse also receives information from the Secretary of State’s Office concerning people who have moved out of state or county, which prompts the clerks to take that person out of the system, said Kincaid.
The county clerks also receive death certificates of anyone who has passed away in the county, as well as the surrounding areas.
“Anytime I receive those, those are cancelled in the system immediately and their card is removed,” Kincaid discussed. “We do absolutely the best we can do stay on top of it.”
In the event that the clerks have not received a death certificate, poll workers and community members will also notify the county clerks of an out of state death so they can be taken out of the voting system.
“We remove them from our records completely,” said Kincaid.
Tom Antulov, deputy county clerk for Marion County, agreed that voter fraud is unlikely in this area because there are only about 1,000 voters for each of the 76 precincts.
“Most of the poll workers in those precincts are from the immediate area and know the people who come there to vote and who have voted in that precinct for years,” explained Antulov. “So (I’m) not saying it can’t happen, but the odds of it happening are slim to none because people know people here.”
He added that areas with bigger populations potentially may have an issue with voter fraud.
“The increased number of people, you have increased odds of things happening,” he said.
Mike Queen, deputy chief of staff for the secretary of state, said “Everybody is concerned about voter fraud, especially to this voter registration issue, and the voter registration issue is an important issue here in West Virginia.”
Queen claimed that there have been a lot of duplicates — people who are registered to vote in two or three counties or people registered in West Virginia and another state.
“There’s a number of issues that lead to abuse of the voting process if we’re not careful,” he said. “So Secretary (of State Mac) Warner is working diligently with our county clerks. County clerks are on the front line.”
Queen stated that Warner is working to clean up the voter rolls in West Virginia.
The chairman of the Republican Executive Committee in Marion County, Kandice Nuzum, stated that she doesn’t believe that Marion County has experienced voter fraud issues. However, Nuzum said she thinks if there are concerns for voter fraud nationally, a possible investigation might be the right move.
“I think our system (in Marion County) is pretty secure,” she said.
The chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, Belinda Biafore, said the Marion County voting system is probably the best around.
“When we hire poll workers, these ladies and gentlemen have been in the community for years and a lot of them have worked in the precincts for years,” said Biafore.
She added that the poll workers are aware of who is coming in and out of the precincts.
“It’s just a small town and we just don’t have those kind of issues,” said Biafore. “It’s a problem that doesn’t exist so why try to bring attention to it.
“There’s plenty problems in the world, jobs, other things that are going on that need taking care of. I just think it’s unfortunate.”
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