CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State lawmakers may consider legislation next year that would eliminate the hand vote canvassing process as it takes place now after each election in West Virginia.

A bill supported by the West Virginia County Clerks Association was approved by a legislative interim committee Tuesday, giving it a push for possible consideration in next year’s regular legislative session.

County commissions are now required to be on a canvassing board that hand counts a number of precincts within a few days following an election, checking for accuracy of the final vote totals. Supporters of the bill claim there’s no longer a purpose for the hand canvass because of very accurate vote counting machines.

Kanawha County Commission Attorney Marc Slotnick told lawmakers Tuesday the machines are checked at least three times an election for accuracy.

“They’re checked at a public test. They are checked at a pre-test right before the election. They are tested after the election and then they are checked at the canvass when we add those various ballots,” Slotnick said.

The vote canvassing following the Nov. 2012 election took 12 hours in Kanawha County. Slotnick said it’s more difficult to get an accurate count from county officials than machines.

“So we have human beings who are sitting there trying to count and you know what the ballot looked like last year, when you throw in executive committees and everything else, it takes an incredible amount of time to try and match-up what the computer can do rather rapidly,” Slotnick said.

Harrison County Delegate Sam Cann expressed some concern about the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Human nature is human nature and I have some reservation because there are so many darned smart people out there,” Cann said. “If they know there’s not a check they get smarter.”

The proposed bill keeps the state’s recount system in place. A candidate can ask for a hand count or an automated count.

The 60-day regular legislative session begins in early-January. This week’s interim committee meetings run through Wednesday.


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  • Tim C

    Just another ploy by Democrats to manipulate the vote. They are slowly losing control of the state and need a way to stack the deck. Just ask the people in Lincoln County.

  • Janpest

    Your report is not exactly accurate. The hand count is a part of the canvass procedure that was initially instituted to verify punch card tabulation with the report that printed out from the tabulation machine. Later a computer program read the tabulator results from the tabulator. The process was still used to verify results, but we also had the 1 per cent error factor, which was always supposed to be a "truth factor". With the initiation of new voting systems and real time printing verification this process is obsolete and not accurate. It no longer because of the human error factor is effective.
    Human error in hand tally makes this ineffective as a "check for errors." The comments that I have read are not Germaine to this bill. We are not changing the procedures for canvassing, only eliminating a process that proves nothing in the process of verifying election results.

  • Frank Young

    Citizens must oppose this!

    Canvassing- reconciling the paper record of votes with the electronic tabulations- is the guard at the door to computer vote fraud. It is to integrity of the vote count what TSA screening is to air safety. Love it or hate it, election canvassing is the check against computer error and deliberate fraud in vote counting.

  • garry peck

    no more hanging chards ? I think someone could easily out smart these machines ! a hand count still is needed!

  • RHytonen

    Checked (in fact, OWNED) by WHOM?

    Seeing what the GOP and ther corporate owners, through ALEC, have been pullng in the other states to CORRUPT OUR ELECTIONS, we should be OUTRAGED at any change!

    Absolutely NOT!

    • BAC

      Are you kidding? Democrats have been stealing elections in W.Va. for 83 years, including rigging voting machines. And with regard to national elections, Obama supporters likely stole Ohio with fraudulent votes last year. For some reason, Democrats are strongly opposed to requiring voters to present ID--why IS that? As to Florida in 2000, a post-election canvass proved that Bush won the state--something the national media gave little attention to.