OPINION: WV will celebrate September as National Voter Registration Month

By Brittany Westfall, Elections Division Director – W.Va. Secretary of State’s Office

For the last 21 years, state, county, and local election officials nationwide have recognized September as National Voter Registration Month. The WV Secretary of State’s Office has proudly participated alongside counterparts across the nation each year since the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) started the initiative in 2002. During this month, the goal of our office is to increase awareness about West Virginia’s voter registration laws, invite eligible citizens to register to vote and encourage registered voters to keep their information up to date.

In partnership with the state’s county clerks, our office works to coordinate voter registration drives in communities throughout the state. In the past three election cycles (since 2018), the clerks have successfully registered 333,633 new voters, over a quarter of our 1,160,367 registered voters. 

The most notable effort by the county clerks and our office is our work with high schools to educate seniors on how to register once they are of eligible voting age. In West Virginia, seventeen-year-old citizens may register to vote in the primary election if they are eighteen by the corresponding general election. 

The message of civic responsibility resonates well with students thanks to our very own United States Senator Jennings Randolph’s leadership role in the advancement of their voting rights. Beginning in 1942, Randolph famously led a 29-year effort to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, resulting in the passage of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1971. At the time of publication, there have been 99,916 high school students registered to vote since Secretary of State Mac Warner took office in 2017.

West Virginia provides simple and accessible methods to check, complete, or update a citizen’s voter registration. The WV Secretary of State’s office hosts a secure website (GoVoteWV.com) that offers a 24/7 voter registration search function for all registered voters and an online voter registration system for voters with a current and valid Driver’s License or State ID. Those who do not have a valid ID can print off an application to mail to their county clerk. 

In addition to online registration, eligible citizens can register in person at their county clerk’s office, the Secretary of State’s Office, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and any other state public assistance offices. 

Our office also encourages your school, service organization, or community to host your own voter registration drive this month. If you are interested, contact the WVSOS Elections Division at elections@wvsos.gov or 304-558-6000. We will mail you voter registration forms or help you track online registrations received at your drive. 

The deadline to register to vote for the May 14, 2024 Primary Election is April 23, 2024. The deadline to register to vote in the November 4, 2024 General Election is October 15, 2024.

While National Voter Registration Month is about ensuring voters have all the information they need to register to vote, our county clerks work daily to do their part in making sure our voter rolls stay current and accurate. One of the chief priorities of Secretary Warner, our Elections Division team, and the county clerks has been to improve the accuracy of the voter rolls. On a routine schedule, clerks mail postcards to voters who appear to have moved, based on data sharing programs by our office. Our office also periodically shares deceased and convicted felon records with the county clerks, so they may immediately cancel those registrations under the provisions law.

Activities surrounding voter registration will continue through the end of September. The celebration of National Voter Registration Day will be held on September 19, 2023. The WV Secretary of State’s Office encourages all West Virginians to help us celebrate National Voter Registration Day in some capacity, whether that is registering to vote, encouraging your friends, co-workers, and family to register, or organizing a voter registration drive in your community.

Brittany Westfall is the Director of the Elections Division for the WV Secretary of State’s Office. She has been with the Elections Division since ​2012. In 2019, Secretary of State Mac Warner appointed her to serve as Director. She is a graduate of Marshall University and a resident of Charleston.

Facebook
Twitter
Reddit
Email

Related stories

Jefferson County Alumni Speak

In 1866, Page Jackson High School became the first publicly funded school for African American students in Jefferson County. The school was symbolic for African

Give us your feedback