Proposed voter reforms may raise security issues, Berkeley County elections chief says

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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — While the presidential inauguration assures a peaceful transition of power, the question of election reform remains on the table.

So what have we learned from last year’s election process? Some are calling for “same day” registration, making the polling place a “one-stop-shop.” An eligible voter could register on the spot then proceed directly to the ballot box to cast their vote.

Not so fast, says the chief of elections in Berkeley County. The identity of each voter must be verified.

“Under West Virginia’s system currently we’re able to verify the person lives where they say they live, they are who they say they are. It could be difficult to verify those things with same-day registration,” says Darrell Shull, Director of Elections.

Shull is adamant that whatever empowerment — or convenience — there may be by registering to vote and casting a ballot on the spot, the risk of voter fraud is too great.

“We want to make certain that someone who votes in our county is a resident of our county and is eligible to vote,” Shull says.”There are risks moving away from the system we have now.”

But one possible change we may see in future elections is the so-called “no excuse” absentee ballot, an outgrowth of changes from Covid where absentee balloting was encouraged to keep crowds away from the polling place.

“The question that’s on the minds of a lot of county clerks right now,” Shull says, “is what’s going to happen with absentee voting? We had some very successful expansions of absentee voting this time. Will the legislature continue that expansion? Are we moving towards ‘no excuse’ absentee voting? Or are we still going to require an excuse and expand the option?”

Berkeley County experienced record turnout in last November’s general election.

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