Kanawha County Commission seeking community voting changes after West Side location rejected

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Commission will push state officials to change community voting rules after the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office closed a site on Charleston’s West Side.

Secretary Mac Warner informed the commission on April 21 that the county could not utilize the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council building as an early voting location, citing a missed deadline. Commissioners approved the location at its Feb. 17 and March 27 meetings, but Warner said the body had to agree on the site by Feb. 9.

Local Republicans opposed the West Side location. The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office ruled the voting site was OK, but the state Elections Commission advised Warner to address the issue.

Commissioners have argued it followed state code and received approval from county attorneys and outside counsel.

“I’m ready to not just move on, but I’m ready to move really, really forward,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said.

The commission said county attorneys will prepare a letter to state officials regarding voting sites and possible changes to allow county bodies to have community voting locations.

“The regulation doesn’t fit the code. It’s just kind of silly, which is why you get a result like this,” Carper added.

Commission Lance Wheeler said commissioners need to understand the conditions of submitting a proposal.

“If this is what held this all up because we did not submit a quote-unquote proposal within 120 days — I don’t know what a proposal is further than having a public meeting, publicly recorded, putting it on a public agenda and doing that every single time,” he said. “If that’s not a proposal, I don’t know what is.”

Carper also pushed the state Elections Commission to consider the matter in a public meeting rather than an executive session.

County commissioners will review a letter to state officials at its next meeting, which is scheduled for May 3.