Online Voting Becomes Reality In West Virginia

Electronic voting ensures ballots return in time to be counted

WOWKTV NewsStory by Gil McClanahan

CHARLESTON -- A few years Scott Bandy was a registered Kanawha County voter living in Ireland. He and his wife still wanted to take part in the election process.

"It was important for us to vote because even though we were missionaries in Ireland we were still American and we had liberty to do that," said Bandy.

Last March Kanawha County unveiled Electronic Military Voting. It allows registered voters living overseas to vote via the internet. West Virginia is first state to test the process. 17 online ballots were requested for this election. Those name are sent to a California company who in turn sends those voters their ballots online.

"Once they get that and they voted, it's held in the Secretary of State's office on their system. It's locked up until today and they we have to decrypt those ballots," says Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick. "I would have loved to have had access to it because what we had access to was paper forms," says Bandy.

In years past overseas absentee ballots would often arrive too late to be counted in the election. Electronic voting now alleviates that.

"By law we cannot count it. The election is over. The canvass is over and the election has been certified. We all feel disheartened when something like that happens," said McCormick.

She said it's too soon to pinpoint any problems with the online system that need to be changed for the November election.

Besides Kanawha County, the other four West Virginia counties taking part in the pilot project are Jackson, Wood, Monongalia and Marshall counties.