By Mac Warner, WV Secretary of State
Congratulations, West Virginia! Once again, West Virginia has executed a great election, and demonstrated to the nation how to hold an election and deliver results on election night. We did so by leveraging technology, conducting extensive training, and following the law.
Consider that vote counting continued in other states more than a week after Election Day, while West Virginia held true to its pledge to provide confident results on election night. Our success story is a powerful precedent and evidence that WV is a national leader in election administration. We conducted a near-flawless election without limiting access or making concessions on security. The essence of honest elections is to make the voting experience simple and easy for the voter, all while following a secure election process structured by well-thought-out laws and careful planning
We have leveraged technology, from voting machines to GIS mapping and texting. Actual implementation of the technology has been done via meticulous preparation and training by county clerks, their staff, and our field investigators. In 2016, only 16% of registered voters in West Virginia were using state-of-the-art voting equipment. Now, with the help of millions of dollars of funding available to every county, West Virginia is on track to have 95% of registered voters in the state voting on the latest technology by 2024. This new equipment is ADA compliant and completely disconnected from the internet. Clerks train poll workers extensively on the equipment, thereby making the voting experience easy and safe for voters. Our clerks, election workers, and investigators deserve a huge pat on the back for their hard work and dedication to election integrity.
West Virginia was among the first in the nation to develop a relationship with federal agencies to prepare for and safeguard against foreign meddling in elections. West Virginia helped establish policies and procedures to improve cooperation between government entities at all levels. Our election personnel attended numerous meetings wherein we helped make policies that required communication between states and the federal government, and facilitated communications between states as well as with our county officials. Now, threats such as cyber-attacks, misinformation, and physical threats are shared between officials at all levels as soon as the threats occur.
Our systems were under constant guard leading up to Election Day by an extensive network of cyber-security protections and close coordination with our WV National Guard, State Office of Technology, Fusion Center, Secretary of State (SOS) Office of Information Technology, SOS Investigations Staff, and Federal partners at Department of Homeland Security and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. We also provide county officials with a Continuity of Operations Plan so they have response plans for situations ranging from a power outage to an active shooter.
Another technological tool in bolstering voter confidence has been our first-in-the-nation “See Something, TEXT Something” campaign. Along with our 877-FRAUD-WV hotline, more than a dozen messages were sent by concerned citizens and instantaneously acted upon by our investigation team deployed throughout the state. This has proven a great way to keep concerned citizens involved in the election process while acting as an effective deterrent to bad actors.
All of West Virginia should be proud of our elections and the example we set for the rest of the nation. Through following the law and careful, deliberate planning, our state maintains a high standard that makes it easy to vote and hard to cheat. Our legislature has done a great job of prescribing the rules by which we run elections, and officials throughout West Virginia have done a great job of following those election laws. Accordingly, our voters have confidence in the process, and our citizens enjoy having results reported on election night.
Congratulations to everyone who worked, voted, ran for office, or simply enjoys living in a state that has become an election model for the rest of the country.