The Office of West Virginia Secretary of State should be the least political of all state offices
Unfortunately for the state's citizenry, a highly-partisan politician, Mac Warner, occupies that office (with 3/8 update)
From the Associated Press:
A bipartisan, multistate effort set up to thwart potential cases of voter fraud is under attack after conspiracy theory-driven claims questioned its funding and purpose. Some Republican-led states are considering pulling out of the group. https://t.co/flh50rvWHW— The Associated Press (@AP) March 4, 2023
The widely printed AP article begins:
Three Republican-led states on Monday pulled out of a bipartisan effort among states to ensure accurate voter lists, undermining a system with a demonstrated record of combating voter fraud.
The moves, encouraged by former President Donald Trump, are the latest indication of how conspiracy theories related to the 2020 presidential outcome continue to ripple throughout the Republican Party and upend long-established traditions in how the country administers elections.
Chief election officials in Florida, Missouri and West Virginia notified the Electronic Registration Information Center, more commonly known as ERIC, that they would depart the voluntary program, which has long been comprised of both Republican-led and Democratic-led states. They join Louisiana, which left last year, and Alabama, which previously announced plans to withdraw this year.
The AP then documents the damage that the pullout will bring:
With no national voter registration clearinghouse, ERIC is the only data-sharing program among states. It was started in 2012 by seven states and was bipartisan from the beginning, with four of the founding states led by Republicans. After the states officially depart, participation will drop to 28 states and the District of Columbia.
The departures have frustrated state election officials involved in the effort and have demonstrated how deeply election conspiracies have spread throughout the Republican Party.
“Election officials who pull out of ERIC are primarily harming their own state’s ability to keep their voter list accurate,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement Monday to the AP. “It’s odd and disturbing to me that any official would choose validating misinformation over being part of a collaborative that has the sole and well-established purpose of improving the integrity of our elections.”
“Validating misinformation”? Yes, but that’s been Warner's history. Since taking office in 2017, Warner has been an outspoken defender of Trump’s unsupported assertion of voter fraud. That includes both the 2016 and 2020 election. Some highlights:
On January 25, 2017, the Charleston Gazette-Mail’s Andrew Brown reported:
Mac Warner, West Virginia’s new Secretary of State, is cheering President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim of mass voter fraud during the 2016 election and the Republican’s call for a “major investigation” into the issue.
In January of 2021, Warner penned a Wheeling Intelligencer op-ed:
Confidence in Government Begins With Election Process
This was one month after Warner spoke at and participated in a Trump-supporting “Stop the Steal Rally” which argued that Trump’s had won the 2020 election. See here.
In May of 2022, Warner spoke to the local Rotary and again claimed irregularities in the 2020 presidential election. Once again, he cited no proof.
Finally, last November, Warner was featured in a New York Times article about secretaries of state who “walk a minefield of election lies.”
For every election, most importantly, a secretary of state should be impartial toward all parties and candidates. When it comes to presidential elections, however, WV's Mac Warner has demonstrated time and again that any winner, other than Donald Trump, means that the election is suspect. Warner is a clear threat to future elections; he should not be Secretary of State.
A final thought -- Mac Warner is an Ogden Newspaper favorite. It will be interesting to see whether the locals publish Warner’s pullout from ERIC, another op-ed by Warner telling us what a great job he is doing, or nothing at all.
Nothing in the morning Intelligencer. I think they're waiting for Warner to write an op-ed. Here is the New York Times coverage:
G.O.P. States Abandon Bipartisan Voting Integrity Group, Yielding to Conspiracy Theories
As the paper explains:
For more than a year, the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit organization known as ERIC, has been hit with false claims from allies of former President Donald J. Trump who say it is a voter registration vehicle for Democrats that received money from George Soros, the liberal billionaire and philanthropist, when it was created in 2012.
The Times notes Trump's fingerprints on this:
Mr. Trump even chimed in on Monday, urging all Republican governors to sever ties with the group, baselessly claiming in a Truth Social media post that it “pumps the rolls” for Democrats.
If you get beyond the Times' paywall, the article also points out how a number of the Republican dropouts were big supporters of the organization until Trump came out against it.