BUCKHANNON — Voter registration information and training was on the docket at the Central West Virginia Republican Women’s Club meeting Monday evening. Dot Underwood, from the WV Secretary of State Office, attended to get the group prepared for National Voter Registration Day. Underwood works in the Clarksburg office and currently covers 12 counties. She has worked with the Upshur County Clerk Carol J. Smith for the last couple of years and stated, “She is right on top of it. Carol has done a really fabulous job for you all here in Upshur County.”
Underwood completed a packet for voter registration drives that the CWVRW held on Tuesday at the Upshur County Library. She also provided all the rules and guidelines to get the registrars up to speed. Underwood stated, “You cannot persuade anyone to change their party, it is illegal.” This was emphasized as being the biggest part of an acting registrar for voter registration. She further explained that registrars cannot even provide information about any party affiliation when asked. Frank Fato, auxiliary member, stated, “Ignorance is a lot of the issue. People do not even realize they can change their party affiliation or even know how to do it.” Smith added, “If they are unaware of how to change their party affiliation, there is nothing wrong with saying they can come into the office, or online, or change on the voter registration form; that is not influencing anyone.”
“You cannot altar or destruct a voter registration form,” Underwood stated. She asked the group, “What would you suggest doing if someone messed up their name on the registration form?” Smith replied, “We would just have them mark through the misspelling or what they had written wrong.” No voter registration forms can be accepted 21 days before an election. Underwood said, “It’s really pretty simple.” Anyone who will be 18 before November 3, 2020 can register to vote. Smith added, “If you have someone that is 17 and they will be 18 before that date, they are allowed to register to vote.”
An additional piece of information that was discussed during the meeting was in regard to restoring voter rights for those who have previously been in legal trouble. Underwood indicated that she will be attending The Second Chance Job Fair on October 1 in Flatwoods at the Days Inn. Smith added, “Once they have completely served their sentence, whether it be jail, probation or parole, they are eligible to re-register.” She also added, “You would be surprised how many people do not know they can do this.”
To sum up the rules for WV Voter Registration, voters may register at any time; however, to be eligible to vote in a specific election, you must register 21 days before that election. For primaries, if voters are registered with one of the four recognized political parties (Democratic, Libertarian, Mountain or Republican), voters may only vote that party’s ballot or the non-partisan ballot. If a voter is registered with any other party or with no party, they may ask the poll worker for one of the recognized party’s ballots or they will give the voter the non-partisan ballot. In the General Election, every registered voter receives the same ballot. Voters must be at least 17 years old and turning 18 before the next General Election. A 17-year-old may register and vote in primary elections if they turn 18 before the next general election. Voters must be a United States citizen and reside at their registered legal address for at least 30 days before the election to be considered eligible to vote. This 30-day requirement also applies to elections in municipalities, barring other language in municipal charters. The voter must not have been judged incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction. No person under conviction, probation, or parole for treason, bribery in an election, or any felony is allowed to vote. Once a person completes his or her sentence, he or she may register to vote again.
The CWVRW were set up at the Upshur County Library on Tuesday, National Voter’s Registration Day. Carol J. Smith, County Clerk also held a voter registration drive at Buckhannon-Upshur High School on Tuesday. Continue to follow The Record Delta for updates from the CWVRW group.