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Government

Redistricting Voters And Computer Glitches Challenge Clerks Before W.Va. Primary

Workers start pre-processing absentee ballots at the city of Lansing Clerk's Election Unit in Lansing, Michigan.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Election workers start pre-processing absentee ballots.

West Virginia’s 55 county clerks continue to face district mapping and computer input challenges as they prepare for the upcoming primary election.

On March 8, the Secretary of State's office calculated that 72 percent of all West Virginia voters had been redistricted into the correct precinct. As of March 24, that number has grown to 87 percent.

Secretary of State’s office General Counsel Deak Kersey said delayed census population numbers slowed the process of setting new voting district boundaries.

“The counties are really taking it to task right now,” Kersey said. “Getting those voters moved, even designing the street segments, which is a term of art that the counties have to use for describing portions of streets in different precincts or districts, and redrawing those lines for precincts and magisterial districts is the nitty gritty of what’s involved.”

Kersey said technical glitches from a new statewide voter registration system have created precinct mapping hurdles.

“The 13 remaining percent are mostly large counties that have complicated technical hurdles to hop over, where they have multiple street segments in a precinct or a district that's been split up,” Kersey said. “It takes a manual review. It takes a human being in the clerk's office to look at a map, compare it with the voter registration system record, and make sure that the right district numbers and the right precinct numbers match up, and then assign that. So it just takes a long time.”

But Kersey says there are back ups to ensure every registered voter gets to vote.

“We still have the data. And so we can do everything we need to do to get ready for an election outside the system if we have to,” Kersey said. That's not what we want to do. And that's not what the counties want to do. But the point is the election will go off without a hitch.”

Clerks are scheduled to begin mailing out requested absentee ballots this Friday. Kersey said those mailings ‘absolutely’ should go off without a hitch. Counties have until April 27 for early voting. The West Virginia Primary is May 10.


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