Huntington League’s November Bulletin

HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE ELECTIONS PROCESS?

pdf iconNov LWV newsletter.pdf

New Voter ID Law Summary – Begins January 1, 2018

W. Va. Code § 3-1-34 RE: New Valid Identifying Documents Requirement
Link: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/WVCODE/ChapterEntire.cfm?chap=03&art=1&section=34#01

Why do we need to design and implement a statewide education program?

Under W. Va. Code § 3-1-34(a)(9), “Prior to the primary and general elections to be held in calendar year
2018, the Secretary of State shall educate voters about the requirement to present a valid identifying
document and develop a program to help ensure that all eligible voters are able to obtain a valid
identifying document.”

New Requirements for In-Person Voting

For elections occurring on or after January 1, 2018, the person desiring to vote:

  1.  Shall present to one of the poll clerks a valid identifying document meeting the requirements of this subsection;
  2. The poll clerk shall inspect and confirm that the name on the valid identifying document conforms to the name in the individual’s voter registration record; and
  3. If the valid identifying document contains a photograph, the image displayed shall “truly” be an image of the person presenting the document.

“Valid Identifying Document” defined:
A document shall be deemed to be a “valid identifying document” if it:

  1. Contains the voter’s name and was issued either by the State of West Virginia, one of its subsidiaries, or by the United States Government; or
  2. Falls into one of the following categories:

(A) A valid West Virginia driver’s license or valid West Virginia identification card issued by the West
Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles;

(B) A valid driver’s license issued by a state other than the State of West Virginia;

(C) A valid United States passport or passport card;

(D) A valid employee identification card with a photograph of the eligible voter issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States Government or of the State of West Virginia, or by any county, municipality, board, authority, or other political subdivision of West Virginia;

(E) A valid student identification card with a photograph of the eligible voter issued by an institution of higher education in West Virginia, or a valid high school identification card issued by a West Virginia high school;

(F) A valid military identification card issued by the United States with a photograph of the person desiring to vote;

(G) A valid concealed carry (pistol/revolver) permit issued by the sheriff of the county with a photograph of the person desiring to vote;

(H) A valid Medicare card or Social Security card;

(I) A valid birth certificate;

(J) A valid voter registration card issued by a county clerk in the State of West Virginia;

(K) A valid hunting or fishing license issued by the State of West Virginia;

(L) A valid identification card issued to the voter by the West Virginia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program;

(M) A valid identification card issued to the voter by the West Virginia Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program;

(N) A valid identification card issued to the voter by West Virginia Medicaid;

(O) A valid bank card or valid debit card;

(P) A valid utility bill issued within six months of the date of the election;

(Q) A valid bank statement issued within six months of the date of the election; or

(R) A valid health insurance card issued to the voter.

Three (3) Exceptions to the Requirement for Presenting a Valid Identifying Document:

Exception 1: Affidavit by an Adult with Knowledge

In lieu of providing a valid identifying document a registered voter may:

  1. Be accompanied at the polling place by an adult known to the registered voter for at least six months;
  2. That adult shall present a valid identifying document with his or her name, address, and photograph;
  3. That adult then signs an affidavit on a form provided by the Secretary of State, which states under oath or affirmation that the adult has known the registered voter for at least six months and that, in fact, the registered voter is the same person who is present for the purpose of voting.

Exception 2: Personal Knowledge of a Poll Worker

No valid identifying document or affidavit is required and a voter shall be permitted to vote without presenting a valid identifying document if a poll worker has known for at least six months. (Note: the Code provides the exact affidavit language, which is at the end of this document)

Exception 3: Precinct Polling Places of Residents living in State Licensed Care Facilities.

A voter who votes in person at a precinct polling place that is located in a building which is part of a state licensed care facility where the voter is a resident is not required to provide proof of identification as a condition before voting in an election.

Anticipated Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

What happens if a voter does not have a valid identifying document or is not accompanied by an adult with knowledge? Or, what if the proof of identification does not qualify as a valid identifying document?

The voter may still vote! However, the voter must cast a provisional ballot and sign an affidavit affirming his or her identity (the same affidavit will be used for an adult with knowledge, mentioned above in Exception 2—the affidavit language is in the Code).

If a voter casts a provisional ballot, will it be counted?

The ultimate determination is up to the Board of Canvassers. However, under the direction of the Code, the provisional ballot is entitled to be counted once the election authority verifies the identity of the individual by comparing that individual’s signature to the current signature on file with the election authority and determines that the individual was otherwise eligible to cast a ballot at the polling place where the ballot was cast.

Poll workers and adults with knowledge (Exceptions 1 and 2 above) have a lot of authority and deference—what happens if someone misuses this authority and falsifies a voter identity affidavit?

They can be charged with a crime.

Under W. Va. Code § 3-1-34(h), “Any person making an oath or affirmation required under the provisions of this section who knowingly swears falsely or any person who counsels, advises, aids or abets another in the commission of false swearing under this section, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or confined in jail for a period of not more than one year, or both fined and confined.”

What happens to a voter’s registration in the Statewide Voter Registration System if a voter signs a voter identity affidavit (because the voter did not provide a valid identifying document)?

The county clerk (or his or her agent/employee) shall indicate in the Statewide Voter Registration System to simply indicate that a voter has not presented a valid identifying document. No further action shall be taken. (See W. Va. Code § 3-1-34(a)(7).

What if a voter is participating in the Address Confidentiality Program appears in-person and has to execute a voter identity affidavit? Will their address confidentiality be compromised?

Absolutely not. The program participant’s residential or mailing address is still subject to the confidentiality provisions of W. Va. Code § 48-28a-108, and the Secretary of State’s office should be notified to guarantee confidentiality.

Voter Identity Affidavit for Proof of Identification

State of West Virginia

County of __________________

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that my name is
______________________________________; that I
reside at _________________________________________________________________; and that I
the person listed in the precinct register under this name and at this address.

I understand that knowingly providing false information is a violation of law and subjects me to possible criminal prosecution
________________________________________
Signature of voter

Subscribed and affirmed before me this ________day of _______________________, 20___

__________________________________
Name of Election Official

____________________________________
Signature of Election Official

This summary was compiled by Donald Kersey, Elections Directory and Deputy Legal Counsel, from the Office of WV Secretary of State Mac Warner for the 1st stakeholders meeting (November 6, 2017) concerning public education about the new Voter ID.

Wood County Voter November – December 2017

Information about WV’s Voter ID law that goes into effect for 2018 elections and upcoming events: Movie “Where to Invade Next” from filmmaker Michael Moore on Saturday, November 18 at the South Parkersburg Library and a Holiday get-together on December 9. Details in the Voter.

pdf iconNovember – December 2017 Voter pdf.pdf

Video: Election Integrity in WV with Elections Director Donald Kersey

Video produced by West TV (footage – Jonathan Rosenbaum) at LWVMM’s fall membership meeting on Wednesday, October 18.

Huntington League’s October Bulletin

MEETING – AMERICA’S BEST COMMUNITY, HUNTINGTON’S INNOVATIVE PROJECT

pdf iconbulletin.10.17.pdf

Decision on FirstEnergy’s Bad Deal for WV Coming Soon – Speak Out Now!

The WV Public Service Commission is considering whether FirstEnergy can transfer a power plant from one subsidiary company to another subsidiary company. The PSC heard from more than 100 people during public hearings and received more than 2,000 written protests.

Now is a critical time and we need your help.

If you are a Mon Power or Potomac Edison customer and have not submitted a letter to the PSC, please go on the record with your opposition to FirstEnergy’s bailout. Below are links to talking points and other resources to help frame your arguments. Need help writing a letter to the PSC? Just reply to this email and we’ll help you out.

Online Resources to Help You Write Your Letter to the PSC:

A decision from the PSC on this Bad Deal for WV is coming soon, and if FirstEnergy gets its way, Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers will be on the hook for the $400 MILLION and pay higher rates.

Letters can be mailed or FAXed to the PSC as follows:

Public Service Commission of West Virginia
Ingrid Ferrell, Executive Secretary
201 Brooks Street
Charleston, WV 25301
FAX: (304) 340-0325

Please reference Case No. 17-0296-E-PC. 

Please take action today. Tell the PSC to say NO to FirstEnergy’s bailout scheme.

EPA Funding Letter to Senators Capitol and Manchin

The LWV-WV and other organizations sent the following letter urging our Senators to support the continuation of the 2017 appropriations for key EPA programs that help West Virginia’s rivers and streams.

October 16, 2017

The Honorable Joe Manchin III                                   The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito
306 Hart Senate Office Building                                  172 Russell Senate Office Building           
Washington DC 20510                                                   Washington DC 20510                    

Dear Senators Manchin and Capito,

West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the undersigned West Virginia organizations, are concerned about the federal appropriations that designate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s allocations for state programs that manage the protection of water quality. We urge you to support the continuation of the 2017 appropriations for key programs that help West Virginia’s rivers and streams.

The U.S. House of Representatives appropriation for the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies bill reduced funding for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program. The Bay Program is significant in its six-state cooperative effort that affects 180,000 miles of streams and rivers and 18 million people. We are pleased that West Virginia, which comprises the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, is part of that effort. We are also cognizant of the benefits of water clean-up programs in West Virginia supported by Bay Program funds. We believe the reduction of support for the Bay Program in the House appropriations bill will be detrimental to West Virginians in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We request that you maintain the 2017 funding level of $73 million in the 2018 appropriations, and support last year’s requirement that $6 million of this allocation go for Small Watershed Grants and $6 million for Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants. These grant programs alone have brought in approximately $5 million since 2010 for projects in West Virginia.

We also are concerned about policy “riders” added to the bill in the House. Restricting efforts to clean up our waters is not a benefit for our citizens and may cause costly future clean ups for the public to bear.  Here are a few examples that stand to place West Virginia’s waters at risk:

  • Prohibiting EPA from enforcing the Chesapeake Bay TMDL on states that are not implementing their own clean-up plans. This would shift pollution reduction responsibilities from states like PA to headwater states, such as WV.
  • Prohibiting EPA from ensuring mining companies are financially capable of cleaning up pollution that operations cause to the land and water.
  • Prohibiting the use of funds to issue any regulation under the Solid Waste Disposal Act that applies to an animal feeding operation.
  • Prohibiting the use of funds to require permits for the discharge of dredged or fill material for certain agricultural activities.
  • Authorizing the withdrawal of the Waters of the United States Rule without regard to any provision of statute or regulation that establishes a requirement for such withdrawal.

Thank you for considering these concerns. Please fully fund essential EPA programs and reject riders that put the future quality of our water supplies at risk.

Angie Rosser, Executive Director
West Virginia Rivers Coalition

George Santucci, Executive Director
New River Conservancy

Cynthia Ellis, President
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

Charles Marsh, President
Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

Gary Zuckett, Executive Director
West Virginia Citizen Action Group

Sherry Evasic, President
Blue Heron Environmental Network

Julie Archer, Co-founder
West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization

Natalie Thompson, Executive Director
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Judy Rodd, Executive Director
Friends of Blackwater

John Bird, Conservation Chair
West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club

Brent Walls
Upper Potomac Waterkeeper

Jonathan Rosenbaum, President
League of Women Voters of West Virginia

 Senate EPA Funding Letter 10.16.17

Without disclosure, we don’t know what conflicts of interest our judges may have

A sitting West Virginia judge, Beth Walker, overturned an important ruling to the benefit of companies her husband owned stock in. Now, her conflict of interest is the center of a case that may be heard by the US Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court decides whether this should have been grounds for her recusal, West Virginians should reflect on another, larger and invisible web of potential conflicts of interest surrounding many West Virginia judges — millions of dollars in secret independent campaign expenditures.

These big-money groups have names like, “Moving West Virginia Forward” and “West Virginians for Fair Courts” that hide who the wealthy special interests that fund them are, and what they want from the judges they support or oppose. Recently, there has been an explosion of secret money in West Virginia and state judicial races across the country. A Brennan Center analysis found that 70% of the spending on TV ads in state judicial races ahead of the 2016 election was from dark money sources. Last year, wealthy special interests groups pulled off another victory in a West Virginia Supreme Court race. Largely anonymous groups spent more than $2 million supporting Beth Walker’s candidacy, duplicating the feat Don Blankenship pulled off 12 years ago.

In the past, West Virginia has been a leader in supporting a fair-minded judiciary. After a particularly egregious instance of secret money influencing the court, our state legislature enacted a landmark judicial public financing system to ensure our judges rule on the constitution and law, not based on special interest influence. They also passed a groundbreaking bill limiting contributions to independent groups and requiring the groups to disclose the identity of their controlling entities and donors. However, in recent years, new US Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United and the growth in new types of dark money spending mean that these disclosure laws are not keeping up with the times. Our campaign finance disclosure laws must be revised.

In Justice Walker’s case, whatever the outcome, all parties recognize that stock ownership is a legitimate conflict of interest concern for a judge to rule fairly on a case. With this in mind, West Virginia, every other state, and federal courts address this concern through common-sense financial disclosure forms. Judges have to be transparent about the companies they invest in so that everyone knows that all rulings are fair, impartial, and free from bias.

But why should this stop at investments? Millions of dollars are being spent to elect our judges in total secrecy from the people of West Virginia. West Virginian voters deserve to know who is trying to influence their votes and their judges. While some will claim these expenditures are independent and that there are laws against coordination, this barrier is not always effective or respected. In February, for example, a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice uploaded b-roll footage of herself onto YouTube, which was then used in television ads by an outside group. Even if these groups are independent, as they claim, there is no compelling interest that these donations made in secret should not be exposed to the sunlight of transparency.

Without common-sense disclosure laws, anyone could end up across the courtroom from another other party who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to a dark money group supporting the judge ruling on their case. And they wouldn’t even have the information, to ask the judge to recuse himself or herself. The faith of West Virginians’ in their courts is rightfully tarnished by such secrecy, but the solution is simple. As dark money tries to find new and hidden ways into influencing our elections, it is critical that our state legislators protect the fairness, impartiality, and public trust in the judiciary through strong, up-to-date disclosure laws.

Julie Archer is Project Manger at WV Citizen Action Group and Co-Coordinator of WV Citizens for Clean Elections, a statewide coalition working to increase transparency and accountability in West Virginia elections.

Fall VOTER 2017

This issue of the VOTER is loaded with timely and important information ranging from the new LWV WV president’s 3 point plan of action to the WV voter registration purge to the natural resource and environmental issues facing West Virginia.

pdf iconVoterFall2017.pdf

September 2017 Morgantown Newsletter

ELECTION INTEGRITY IN WEST VIRGINIA– October 18

Our first fall meeting will be held Wednesday, October 18, 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Aull Center, next to the Library at 351 Spruce Street. This public meeting will focus on issues surrounding voting in West Virginia. We have invited Donald “Deak” Kersey, Director and Deputy Legal Counsel from the Secretary of State’s Office, to present information and to respond to questions from our league and participants. Among our questions are the following:

1. How are voter rolls cleaned up—what criteria, how often, how many people were “purged” under the new SOS? Is the process standardized across counties?
2. Voter ID—where does this stand now?
3. How secure are our voting machines and what are the efforts to standardize machines and testing?
4. What is the status of the Motor Voter program?
5. What efforts are being made to increase voter turnout, including ballot by mail?
6. Has the SOS responded to requests for information by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity?
7. Is the SOS is considering dropping ERIC in favor of Crosscheck (for interstate duplication of voters)? What safeguards are in place to prevent discrimination?

This will be an important informational/discussion meeting. It is also an opportunity for members to meet and greet current and potential members. Please bring a friend! There will be refreshments following the meeting.

Road Bond Amendment

On Saturday, October 7, WV voters will decide on the ballot issue on whether WV should sell bonds to repair and build roads. A constitutional amendment is necessary to authorize the debt. If passed, the “Roads to Prosperity” amendment will give the legislature authorization to issue and sell bonds to be used for the improvement and construction of state roads. The amendment calls for the sale of up to $1.6 billion in state bonds over the next four years. The legislature has already passed increases in gasoline taxes, new car sales taxes, and Division of Motor Vehicle fees; these increases are sufficient to pay the debt from the bonds. The income from the sales of the bonds will be available for matching federal funds for highways and bridges. The maximum term of the bonds is 25 years. The last road bond amendment was the Safe Roads Amendment in 1996.

Several League members attended the County Commission Meeting on September 13, 2017 to hear a Department of Highways presentation about the Amendment. The presentation was given by Don Williams, District 4 Project Manager for DOH. He emphasized that there will be no additional fees or taxes as a result of passing the bond; the increases have been in place since July 1, and are being used for getting work done now.  Without passage of the bond, work will proceed at a slower pace, and will undoubtedly be more expensive because of increases in construction costs.  Bonds will not be sold until contracts are ready to be let. Projects have already been established and prioritized, and all 55 counties are included. There are numerous projects on the priority list for Mon County.  Candidate projects can be found at www.transportation.wv.gov 

A video of the Commission meeting can be found at https://youtu.be/Cm50z2-mRbA?t=1732 

The LWV of Morgantown does not have a position on the Road Bond amendment, but encourages everyone to vote. Remember, it is a Saturday Election! Early voting will take place at the Mountaineer Mall Sept 22 to October 4, Monday 9-7, Tues – Sat. 9-5.

Annual Meeting May 2017 

The Annual Meeting 2017 was held at Ali Baba’s Restaurant on Saturday, May 20, 2017. After the noon Luncheon, Shirley Rosenbaum introduced David Beard, reporter and editor at the Dominion Post, and presented him with the Democracy in Action Award for his thorough and knowledgeable reporting of the West Virginia legislature for the Dominion Post. Mr. Beard responded with remarks concerning his years as a reporter.

Jonathan Rosenbaum introduced the Guest Speaker, Bill Austin, Executive Director of the Morgantown-Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Mr. Austin gave an overview of the MPO and current projects, and responded to numerous questions from league members.

Vicki Conner presented outgoing President Jonathan Rosenbaum with a gavel, with thanks from our league members for his two terms of exemplary leadership, and best wishes for his future as President of the State LWV.

Board Members elected for 2017-2019 are:

  • President Vicki Conner
  • 1st VP Nancy Jamison
  • Secretary Barbara Brown
  • Director Mitzi Martin
  • Director Jonathan Rosenbaum
  • Director Shirley Rosenbaum
  • Director (unexp. Term): Judith Wilkinson
  • Nominating Committee: Shirley Rosenbaum, Cynthia O’Brien, and Penny Thomas

Continuing Board Members (elected in 2016) are: Catherine Lozier, 2nd VP; Lyndell Millecchia, Treasurer; Marlene Frich, Director; and Barbara White, Director

Board Meetings Are Open, All Welcome

It was my honor to follow Jonathan Rosenbaum as President of the Board of Directors of LWVMM.  The Board continues to meet most months on the third Monday at 4:00 p.m. in the conference room at the Morgantown Public Library. These meetings are always open to interested League members and to members of the public, and we would welcome anyone to attend, whether to present an issue for discussion or to simply observe. Because of our Fall Membership Meeting, there will be no Board meeting in October. Since our November meeting falls during the Thanksgiving holiday, it will be moved to November 6 at 4:00 p.m. in the library.  Please feel free to call me to confirm meeting dates/times at 304-292-2640.  Vicki Conner

Observer Corps

One of the objectives of our league is to establish an Observer Corps of interested members who will attend City Council meetings (Morgantown, Star City, Granville, Westover, and beyond), County Commission and other entities.  With an eye to issues such as voting issues, social justice, natural resources, challenges for local government, education and transportation, members can simply note the topics, any areas of concern and local actions.

I have been attending Westover City Council meetings for a few months now and find them interesting and a way to be much more in touch with my particular community.  Westover meetings seldom go over 50 minutes.   I would like to hear from LWV members who might be interested in attending their own local and/or county meetings and then ask that you email me a monthly report on issues that the league might, in various ways, be able to address.

If you already attend these meetings or think you might be interested please let me know and I will add you to this committee. My plan, as chair of the Observer Corps is to, at least initially, keep this an email committee.  I believe that collection of ongoing issues can be done via email and I will communicate that way with you and will report our findings to the board for the “Corps”.

Barbara Brown
bjbrnwv@gmail.com

Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

According to the LWV-US, the agenda of this commission is “part of a wider effort to suppress the vote, keep certain politicians in power and undermine our elections by spreading falsehoods about our election system. Politicians should not be putting up additional barriers that prevent people from voting. We should be addressing polling place closures, cuts to early voting and onerous voter ID laws. We should not have elected officials openly scheming to illegally purge registered voters or collect their personal information.” Hopefully we will be more aware of what is happening with the Advisory Commission after our meeting with Mr. Kersey.

Please plan to pay your dues when you come to the October meeting.

Currently dues are $48 for an individual, $72 for a household (two at the same address), and $24 for a student. Checks should be made to LWV Morgantown-Mon County. Dues may be mailed to: Lyndell Millecchia, Treasurer, 476 Lawnview Drive, Morgantown, WV 26505. You can also pay with your credit card at http://tinyurl.com/paylwvmm or you may send money from your PayPal account to: mmtreasury@lwvwv.org
Contributions are always welcome! (Contributions are not tax deductible.)

Read the complete newsletter here: LWVMM September 2017 Newsletter