CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The first year for West Virginia’s online voter registration application system has been a busy year with more than 56,000 new registrations or registration changes being submitted since the system’s launch in Fall 2015.
That number included 30,111 new voter registration applications as of Sept. 30, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
The popularity comes as no surprise to Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes. “We are in a digital age,” he said. “It’s moving that way.
Wood County was one of the West Virginia counties recording the most usage of the online voter registration application system. At the top of the list was the Mountain State’s largest county, Kanawha County, followed by Monongalia County, Berkeley County, Cabell County and then Wood County.
Any submissions through the online voter registration system, OVR, are sent to county clerks for approval and processing.
Confirmations go out to everyone who registers or makes changes within the system. “We try to verify every address and then, if we do not see the person, we also flag that they have to show ID at the first time that they go vote,” Rhodes explained.
Rhodes said workers in his office regularly direct already-registered voters to the system for name, party or address updates to reduce the necessity for courthouse trips. “That way, when they go to the polls, they’re not voting a provisional ballot,” he said.
Residents from all 55 counties have used the system.
During the past year, about 55 percent of the submissions came in through desktop or laptop computers while 45 percent were submitted through a mobile device, the Secretary of State’s Office reported. There were three submissions via WiiU, three via PlayStation 4 and three via Xbox.
Social media appears to be an always growing voter drive tool.
In September alone, National Voter Registration Month, there were more than 11,000 online voter registration submissions in West Virginia. On Sept. 23 when Facebook posted voter registration reminders, the Mountain State’s systems received 4,502 new voter registration applications in a single day.
Rhodes reported seeing similar spikes.
“When social media, on occasion, throws out a ‘Are you registered to vote?’ we walk in the next morning and there will be 400 registrations out there or changes or something of that nature that we go through,” said Rhodes.
In addition to online registrations WHICH CAN BE SUBMITTED HERE, new registrations and changes can be handled in person at local county clerk offices or through the mail. Applications can also be picked up at county clerk offices or downloaded from the Secretary of State’s website.
To vote in the Nov. 8 general election, you must register to vote by 4 p.m. on Oct. 18. That is also the deadline for changes of address or party changes.
Registering to vote is only a first step, though. Those registered, Rhodes said, need to get out to cast ballots.
“I only won by five votes last time, my first time in an election, so every vote does count,” he told MetroNews.
Early voting begins on Oct. 26 and continues through Nov. 5.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.