Randy Yohe Published

Voter Registration Push Has Overriding Themes

Danielle Walker - March 2020.jpg
Del. Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, is one of many engaged in voter registration drives.
Perry Bennett

For some, the push to boost West Virginia voter registration has an overriding theme. What’s consistent is that all involved want to see informed voters going to polling places in November.

Tucker County Clerk Sherry Simmons proudly said with a population of about 6,800, and more than 5,000 registered to vote, Tucker County led the state in the primaries with a 48 percent turnout. Simmons said that’s because in this tight-knit rural county, they do it right.

“We have very dedicated citizens that registered to vote and change their addresses and change their party affiliation,” Simmons said. “We are active with our school system and we work with our teachers. Everybody does everything right in Tucker County.”

Working hard on voter registration, Secretary of State Mac Warner said informed voters will have more clout this election.

“We never tell people how to vote, but we do want people to be educated on the issues,” Warner said. “This is an off year election, a midterm election, so you usually don’t have the turnout that you would in a presidential year. If you do vote, your vote is going to have more of a proportional impact, you’re going to have a larger say.”

Do Simmons and Warner think the recent abortion legislation passed into law will prompt more West Virginia women to register and vote?

“That is their personal opinion. I feel that, yes, it could,” Simmons said.

“I think there’s some indication of that,” Warner said.

Del. Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, is taking Secretary Warner’s advice to heart. The vice-chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party is up for re-election, but said she’s spending her campaign time getting people registered to vote.

“We have to channel our outrage due to the impeachment of reproductive freedom. And so we’re doing that by taking an opportunity to tell folks you have a chance to make a difference,” Walker said. “Your voice matters, Your vote matters, and every election matters.”

Walker said it’s not about more women expected to register and vote. She calls it the Roevember election.

“This is not just a women’s issue. This is a human rights issue. And we have to include every person,” Walker said. “There’s males that are upset about this deal. And there’s also non-binary and trans folks that we must not exclude out of this conversation. So everybody is going to stroll to the polls in November.”

Putnam County Clerk Brian Wood, president of the West Virginia County Clerk’s Association, had a caution for campaign candidates.

“Be on your best behavior, give respect to voters, allow privacy in their space,” Wood said. “Obviously with politics you want to get your message out, we understand that. We just want to make sure you understand where that line is at, so there’s no voter intimidation.”

Wood said clerk’s office staffers and poll workers don’t want to influence election outcomes one way or another. He agreed that all involved want informed voters casting ballots.