UPDATE: Voter registration over after online debacle in Kanawha County

Published: Apr. 13, 2016 at 11:58 PM EDT
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UPDATE 4/19/16 @ 6:52 p.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY. W.Va (WSAZ) -- After a letter written by Secretary of State Natalie Tennant landed on the desk of Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick, she began accepting online voter registrations that she previously had not allowed.

WSAZ first reported last week that in a letter, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant told commissioners that Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick was forcing those who register online to also fill out a paper form before they become eligible to vote.

McCormick was sending people who tried to register online a separate document that had to be signed and returned before their registration was complete.

McCormick has since allowed those applying online to complete registration without sending in the separate document.

"We've had over 4,000 registrations, and we've taken care of all of them. We've been doing this since October. We have had no complaints. They get their mail, they sign them, they send them back. If we haven't heard from them within a few days we either call them, send them another letter," she says.

Since Saturday, McCormick says they have been allowing all online voter registrations without compromise.

"She wants us to go ahead and accept all of them. We started that Saturday. I have not changed my position on that, but we wanna get these people their cards," McCormick said Tuesday.

McCormick says she still has concerns over the dangers of voter fraud conducted through online registration but says anyone who registered online Saturday through Tuesday was accepted and did not have to fill out additional documentation.

McCormick did say that there are some people who tried to register online prior to last Saturday and have not returned the documentation. She says her staff is working to make sure all of those people get registered in time.

Voter registration for the May 10 primary closed Tuesday, April 19.

ORIGINAL STORY 4/14/16 @ 12:10 a.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- In the world of teens, technology is everything.

"They practically are our life," Nitro High School senior Allison Frazier said.

Frazier, who will be a first-time voter in the upcoming West Virginia Primaries, says she works with "INSPIRE," an organization that encourages young adults to vote.

She says many of her peers will only register to vote by using the convenience of the Internet.

"Everything is digital," Frazier said. "When you apply to college, you do it online ... Your banking, it's online."

But when it comes to registering to vote in Kanawha County, Frazier says online access has hit a glitch.

"A lot of us feel like our rights are being denied," Frazier said.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who launched West Virginia's online registration program at Frazier's school in September, wrote a letter to county commissioners in response to dozens of angry calls into her office.

The calls claim that Clerk Vera McCormick is forcing those who register online to also fill out a paper form before they become eligible to vote, something Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy says goes beyond due diligence for voter fraud.

"Online registration is long overdue," Hardy said. "It's being done all over the country."

Hardy says online systems are just as secure as paper forms and are more convenient for most people.

"This would be like being against voting machines maybe 50 years ago when voting machines first came out," Hardy said. "The evolution of technology is going to happen. We need to embrace it and work with it."

Frazier says online access would encourage more than just teens to vote, helping people with disabilities and those who live in rural areas register with ease.

"This form was created for them," Frazier said. "It's hard for them to go to the County Clerk's Office and pick up a hard copy."

Commissioners say they plan on holding a special meeting on April 19, the last day to register to vote in the upcoming primaries, to urge McCormick to accept online registrations going forward.

WSAZ has reached out to McCormick. However, she has not responded yet.