CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and his office are getting local officials from all 55 counties in the state in gear for the 2020 elections.

The Secretary of State’s office is hosting a 2019 Election Officials Training Conference in Lewis County this week that focuses on local officials knowing their resources, knowing cybersecurity and the threats that Russian meddling may bring.


Mac Warner

“This is time to get everyone’s head thinking elections,” Warner said on Monday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’. “Taking care of all the security protocols, what do you do if and when something happens, and making sure everybody is current with the legislative changes. Then allow them to go back to their counties and start implementing.”

Warner said the conference Tuesday, at Stonewall Resort, will feature national security and election officials for the 160 state leaders on hand to hear from.

The focus will be on the latest developments and protocols when it comes to cybersecurity, which Warner said is something the state has been ahead of.

The Department of Homeland Security came and viewed a statewide conference last summer in Morgantown.

“We were the first state last summer to hold an election conference on cybersecurity and what all this means,” Warner said. “We used some materials that we developed at the Harvard Belfer Center, defending digital democracy.”

According to Warner, 28,000 social media posts a day during the 2016 election period were meddling from Russia. He said Russians will manipulate the corners of social media to cause havoc in elections.

“Cracks in American society where we tend to fight with one another. Russians are trying to push those edges to get us to go against one another, to go against our government officials, to not trust the election results,” Warner said.

“We are preparing the county clerks, because all elections are local, to go back to their local communities and ensure them we are ready, we are prepared, that you can trust the election results and to not participate in this continuing push by the Russians.”

Warner emphasized interferes are not going after hardware, not marking any ballots but hacking American spirit.

The key of the conference for his office is to let county and local officials know if something does go wrong, there are resources. Warner said the state is in the fight together.

“Make sure they know our office, our personnel, our experts,” he said. “We have West Virginia Fusion Center coming in too. If you have a natural disaster like a flood, there’s one set of people you go to. If you have a cybersecurity situation, you have another set of people.”