Secretary of State praises Monongalia County for best voting practices

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner believes Monongalia County may have the best voting practices in the nation.
Warner said he’d like to find a way to implement some of the county’s practices throughout the rest of West Virginia.

“Not to give (County Clerk Carye Blaney) a big head, but it might be the best in the nation,” he said. “Literally, that electronic card that all the voters in Monongalia County got … I was up there several times and I did not see a line. If there was any line, they moved it through within minutes.”

The electronic card is a new feature in Monongalia County this year. All registered voters received the ID card, which they could then present at polling places and early voting locations.

“It all comes down to money. Can a county afford to do what you all were able to do in Monongalia County?” Warner said this month on WAJR’s Morgantown AM.

Monongalia County routinely finishes counting votes well before 9 p.m., and is usually among the first in the state. Even with a brief power outage on Election Day, Blaney still held true to the annual tradition of taking one of the state’s most populated counties and reporting early.
Voting ends at 7:30 p.m.

While not everything Monongalia County does is completely replicable across the state, Warner said a large county with its highest midterm turnout since 2006 having virtually no lines is a model to emulate.

“We can certainly facilitate that poll card to get people through the registration process, and then if we have enough machines that solves the long lines we did experience in a few places,” Warner said.

Warner also praised Blaney for the decision to use the electronic card as a form of voter ID in compliance with state law and as a means for poll workers to more simply identify voters.

“That eliminates any human error with regards to an address or misunderstanding whether somebody is a junior or a senior — those sort of things,” he said. “We’ve done quite a bit of clean-up of the voter registration rolls. We’ve taken off 105,000 names — about eight or nine percent of the total names that were on the list prior to my taking office.”

The county even drew observers during the May primary election from outside the state, interested in seeing Blaney’s process.

“That’s attributable, again, to the county clerks doing their jobs. We’re simply giving them the tools to do their jobs.”

Though it may require additional funding — either state or federal — Warner said the combination of factors discussed have led to Monongalia County being known for how it runs elections.

“All of those things are going together to reduce the opportunities both for fraud and for human error,” Warner said. “And that’s why I think you have such an efficient system in Monongalia County, and you have the results out very quickly. I think there was a generally pleasant experience for people voting in Mon County, and I simply want to take that experience across the rest of West Virginia.”