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.