CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding an Ohio law regarding the removal of inactive voters will allow states with similar laws, including West Virginia, to improve its voter rolls.
The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of the state law aimed at removing voters off the active list after not participating in two elections. The voter has to be contacted first prior to the person’s name being placed on an inactive voter list. If the person responds, their information is updated.
West Virginia has a similar law, with a key difference being a four-year period.
Warner said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” the law has approval from county clerks as poll workers do not have to print ballots for removed voters. He added clerks are required to print 110 percent of the ballots needed for an election.
He also said the removal decreases the risk of voter fraud being committed, as it lowers the chance of someone submitting an absentee ballot in someone else’s name.
“Nothing but bad happens by having those extra names on the voter registration rolls,” he said.
States are required to clean up voter rolls because of the National Voter Registration Act.
“What we’ve been arguing over is what is the process to clean up those voter rolls. And the Supreme Court has validated both Ohio and West Virginia’s process for doing such,” Warner said.
Warner added one byproduct of moving voters to the inactive status list is an increased voter participation rate.
“From the 2016 election, we only had one county — Lewis County — that had over 70 percent participation,” he said. “Had the voter rolls been cleaned up, we would have had another eight counties over that 70 percent threshold, and that’s pretty much the national standard. If you’re over 70 percent, you’ve got a very active civic engagement. You’ve got a population that cares and is out voting.”
According to Warner, county clerks have removed more than 98,000 names from the active voter list.
State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a statement with Warner on Monday approving of the Supreme Court’s decision, saying “preserving an accurate, effective and efficient means of maintaining voter registration is crucial to ensuring the integrity of elections in West Virginia.”