BUCKHANNON — West Virginia’s 30th Secretary of State (SOS), Republican Mac Warner has made several recent trips to Buckhannon to campaign, rally with the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee, and work with local officials to ensure a safe and accurate election process.
Warner explained the extensive duties of his office as West Virginia’s SOS, his accomplishments since taking office in 2016, and his efforts to prevent voter fraud to The Record Delta Monday evening.
Warner explained that he is responsible for the Mountain State’s administrative law, business licensing, and election processing. Regarding administrative law, when the Governor signs a bill, it comes to the Secretary of State, where it is notarized by Warner and then goes on state record. He explained that the largest part of the job is the business licensing division, as well as keeping track of the state’s 117,000 businesses, charities, notaries, etc. Warner currently employs 20-25 people in the business licensing division, five in elections, and two in the administrative law division. “You see just by the number of personnel that our emphasis is on business licensing and keeping people’s registrations up to date and that sort of thing,” he stated.
Within his first year as SOS, the “WV One Stop Business Portal” was initiated and remains one of Warner’s proudest achievements. In his opinion, this business development center will have the longest impact on the state. The one-stop setup allows people to start businesses with ease, keep their registration requirements current, and even grow small businesses under the convenience of one roof, as well as providing online access. The SOS’s office has won two national recognitions related to this development. This business center is the first of its kind in the Nation to have four state agencies under one roof, with the addition of a business development center kiosk, essentially making it five agencies under one roof. The comprehensive facility includes the Secretary of State’s Office, Tax Department, Labor Department and Workforce WV. The center also offers free parking and does not complicate access with high security like there is at the Capitol, Warner explained.
Expedited services are also available for a fee at the WV One Stop Business Portal. Business owners can pay an extra fee to have their paperwork moved to the front of the line when time is of the essence, Warner offered. A fee of $500 will have your paperwork processed in one hour, $250 will have it processed in two hours, or $25 will have it processed in 24 hours. Their slogan is “Moving at the speed of business.”
“We want government to respond right now and give them what they need. Businesses are accustomed to paying a fee for better service or better innovations and technology, and that’s what we are providing them with the business one stop here in West Virginia,” stated Warner. This center is located on Washington street, one black away from the State Capitol, in Charleston. To find more information regarding the “WV One Stop Business Portal,” follow the link https://business4.wv.gov/Pages/default.aspx.
The Record Delta asked Warner how he would assure voters that their vote will be counted, and counted accurately. He explained that West Virginia had an almost flawless Primary Election and said it was the best in all the United States. The state had very accurate reporting on election night, according to Warner. He emphasized there were zero cases of election-related COVID-19 reported, confirming it was a safe experience. “If you enjoyed your Primary experience, you’re going to love the General Election experience,” Warner stated. He assured that the same protocols will be in place—people will have the proper PPE, keep equipment clean, and voters will wear face masks and remain socially distanced and ultimately following the CDC’s guidelines.
Warner also asserted that the state’s County Clerks were great, working overtime and weekends to get the job done. He said the state went from 7,000 absentee ballots in a typical election, to 224,000 in this year’s primary and added, “That’s a lot of work for the Clerks and their teams, but they got it done very professionally all across the State.” Warner was asked to testify in front of Congress about how West Virginia had such a successful Primary Election, so that other states may learn from our experience. He attributed the Mountain State’s success to the wonderful job of the County Clerks.
Warner compared the election to a football game in saying, “We have the first half under our belt; we’re winning, we’ve made some halftime adjustments, such as the electronic portal and we’re going to be better in the second half [the upcoming General Election].” He explained, “Using technology to our advantage speeds up the process and makes it more efficient and allows fewer human errors.”
Under Warner’s administration, his office has reportedly removed 195,000 names that were considered bad data from the voter registration list and added 205,000 new registrations, gathering 10,000 more new live voters. Warner explained, “It’s a net gain relatively speaking. We still have 1.2 million registered voters, and of those 205,000 new names, 58,000 of those are high school students.” Therefore, more than a fourth of new registered voters are high school students who will be voting in their first presidential election. “We really emphasize getting people involved early on, and that way they’re more likely to be civically engaged throughout their lifetime,” he stated.
Warner’s office has also identified another 235,000 inactive voters, he reported. If these voters are inactive over an approximate span of seven years, missing out on two federal elections, clerks can send them a letter that they have to respond to, and if they fail to respond, then they can be removed. Warner explained this voter list maintenance had not been taken care of in the eight years prior to him taking office, allowing these names to continue accumulating over the years. He predicts that by February and March, approximately 200,000 people will be marked inactive, thereby creating the cleanest voter list that West Virginia has probably ever seen.
If anyone witnesses fraud, voter intimidation or suppression, or has any questions, Warner encourages them to report it to (877) FRAUDWV, which is a direct line to his anti-fraud task force. It is made up of approximately six state and federal agencies, including the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, State Police, FBI, and the US Attorney’s office. “We take fraud as serious as anyone has ever taken it in the State…We have more investigators than we’ve ever had in the state. We are on top of the situation,” he confirmed. If there is fraud, Warner states that they have the resources to take care of it. He elaborated, if you put a ballot in the mailbox, there’s approximately a 4 percent chance that it will get delayed or misrouted. Therefore, he wants people to feel comfortable voting in person and encourages them to do so, because it is the surest way to make sure your ballot is counted.
Warner also gave a shout out to Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith. He spent the 2018 General Election in Buckhannon and explained that he was very impressed with the way she handled everything. “She’s a great clerk,” he asserted.
For more information regarding the upcoming General Election, visit govotewv.com or contact Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith, as Warner says she is the best local resource available. Early voting is scheduled for October 21 through October 31 and will take place at the Upshur County Courthouse from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
Prior to running for office in 2016, Warner had just finished serving five years in Afghanistan for the U.S State Department. Warner stated he is a conservative, a U.S. Army Veteran and sixth generation West Virginian. He served a total of 23 years in the U.S. Army, where he reportedly promoted American ideals of freedom and liberty. Warner is focused on West Virginia’s fight against election fraud and also assisting business growth in the economy, specifically through the state’s nationally recognized “WV One Stop Business Portal.” Warner and his wife, Debbie of 38 years have raised their four children in Monongalia County, where she is a Realtor. All four of their children are past or present officers in the U.S. Army.