BUCKHANNON — Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the Upshur County Clerk’s office will begin accepting credit cards.
It’s been a goal of newly sworn-in county clerk Carol Smith’s and one that is just around the corner.
Smith, who was appointed to the county clerk role in January 2017 following the death of long-time county clerk Debbie Thacker Wilfong, won election to the unexpired term Nov. 6. During a brief ceremony before 26th Judicial Circuit Judge Jake Reger Wednesday, Smith took the oath of office for the second time in two years.
Smith has been a deputy county clerk with the office since 1998 and has a number of to-do items she is busy checking off her list.
Being able to accept credit cards is one more check mark on that list.
She also wants to continue adding records to the database online which can be accessed by visiting www.upshurcounty.org, clicking on government and then county clerk.
“My goal is to continue to expand that with doing additional back scanning and additional indexes so you can find a name through the search engine,” she said. “The goal would be to scan the paper indexes so you could look through the indexes. We have started that process but I don’t have any available to view yet.”
The county clerk’s office has also scanned plat files to be added online soon.
“We also have the ability now to print the entire map for whoever needs it,” she said. “We have a printer that can handle that in the assessor’s office and that has been a nice feature.”
Smith also plans to streamline a few other office processes, but has been busy with elections.
First, the primary and general in 2018 and now an upcoming excess levy election for the Upshur County Board of Education on 2019.
The county clerk’s office also implemented a new voting system this year – the ExpressVote system from iVotronic that was used for the first time in the General Election.
“From my point of view, the voting system we used in the General Election ran perfectly,” she said. “There were a few minor processes that need to be changed when we use it again.”
The purchase price came in at $310,000 but after the county signed the agreements the State of West Virginia received $6 million in grant money through the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
“In working with the Secretary of State’s office, I was able to get an award of $237,866.26,” she said.
“We were able to purchase additional ExpressVote machines and a ballot on demand system.
It also provided for some security features. The rest of the award was a 50 percent reimbursement of what we had spent so about $50,000 is going back into the rainy day fund which is where the county took some of the money from to pay for the system,” she said.
After previewing the system at numerous meetings and open houses around the county, the public began using the system with early voting.
“I think the poll workers embraced it,” she said. “They were excited about it and they did a fantastic job.”
Smith plans to do more training and have diagrams on how to layout the room with the machines at the precincts prior to the Jan. 19 election.
“For the most part, the public seemed to appreciate it and like it,” she said. “There was a lot of concern that you wouldn’t have a paper ballot.”
But the machines print out a paper ballot that allows the voter to see it.
“During the canvassing, for the first time ever when we actually hand counted a precinct, it 100 percent matched what was on the print out,” she said. “The only change in the vote totals was the provisional votes that were tabulated.”
Having the board of education choose the ExpressVote system over paper ballots will make it much easier on Election Night, Smith added.
“You don’t have the ballot waste,” she said. “The commission has also decided to only charge the board of education what is used for the ballots which at 55 cents a ballot will be a savings for them.”
Smith is also working to add more information to the county clerk’s tab on the website. She wants the public to know that her staff is there to help.
“We are public servants,” she said. “That’s what we do.”
Smith also thanked the voters who elected her, as well as her staff.
“I really would like to thank the voters of Upshur County for their support and confidence in putting me in my new position,” she added. “I would also like to thank my office staff for all the hard work they do. I appreciate it very much.”