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Letter to the editor: It’s time to prepare to ‘remember in November’

October 11, 2018

My fellow West Virginians,

We have a midterm general election coming up and there are traditional and new voting issues facing the citizenry of our state. There is a new voter’s identification law in force, our traditional lack of voter participation to consider, and the purging of voters’ rolls by the Secretary of State’s Office. It is time to prepare to remember in November.

Voters will be required to provide ID when voting for the first time in a West Virginia general election. They have a choice of 10 non-photo and seven photo ID cards (such as a birth certificate or driver’s license) to choose to present. There are also three exemption options available: (1) A signed and sworn adult statement of knowing the individual for six months with the swearer having a photo ID with their name and address on it, (2) Identification by a poll worker, and (3) Being a resident of a state care facility.

Registered voters should be aware that the Secretary of state has purged over 100,000 voters from the rolls for reasons including the transfer to new 911 addresses. I encouraged you to go to the secretary’s website (https://services.sos.wv.gov/Elections/Voter/AmIRegisteredToVote) and check your current status. This link will also update you on your polling location in case it has changed since you last voted.

Improving the picture in West Virginia begins with registration. Currently, West Virginia registers most of its graduating high school seniors, unfortunately, they aren’t voting. In the 2014 midterm only 4 percent of 18-24-year-olds voted. Our democracy is literally dying as young voters don’t participate and the largest voting bloc - the elderly - are passing on. However, despite the state’s slight loss in population, registration numbers through September 2018 show that West Virginia’s voter rolls are over 1.23 million registered for the general election in 2018. Although, turnout has been on the decline for the past 20 years, and the figures for the last off-year midterm election in 2014 was a paltry 32 percent, this year’s primary turnout was 26.12 percent, a significant improvement over 2014′s 20 percent and a reversal in the general trend, a hopefully sign for the future.

So, new voters and engaged voters could be the deciding factor in almost any race. But the time to act is now. West Virginians must register at their county clerk’s office by Tuesday, Oct. 16, to participate in the upcoming general election. Individuals with a valid driver’s license may register online at https://ovr.sos.wv.gov/Register/Landing.

Early Voting is available on weekdays during regular business hours and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at your county courthouse. General election Early Voting period runs Oct. 24 to Nov. 3. You should contact your county clerk to confirm these hours and dates.

So get registered, check your registration, encourage a young or new voter, choose whether to vote early or on November 6th. Your democracy wants and needs your participation!

Gregg Wingo

Citizen-at-Large

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