Carper hopes to initiate off-site voting
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - With the 2012 election over, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper will begin pushing for community, or satellite, voting.
State law allows for early voting in areas other than the county courthouse, and several counties, including Wood and Cabell, offered that option during this election. The law was passed during the 2011 Legislative session.
Carper would like to see off-site voting initiated in Kanawha County as well. He brought up the subject at a special commission meeting held Wednesday to certify the election results.
"If we're not going to do it, then the people would like to know why," he said.
Carper said the early voting period was reduced by five days in a compromise that was reached to get the community voting bill passed. Voters have a 13-day period to cast ballots in advance of Election Day.
Kanawha County officials were instrumental in getting the bill passed by the state Legislature.
Carper believes the majority of people who voted early this year lived or worked in Charleston.
"It's not fair to the people living in the eastern end of the county or in Cross Lanes," he said.
Opponents to satellite voting have cited cost. Carper believes the cost will be about $30,000 in Kanawha County.
"Is there a cost?" he asked. "Yes."
"But it's about 2 percent of the entire election budget."
Opponents also cite the potential for voter fraud. The counties that held community early voting had no problems, Carper said.
"I think you would have a hard time finding a voter that distrusts the process and doesn't want it," he said.
Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick was out of the office Wednesday and did not attend the meeting. Carper would like to discuss the issue with McCormick at one of the commission's upcoming meetings.
He suggested it be placed on the agenda for the Nov. 29 meeting or one shortly after that date.
"And I would strongly urge the clerk to contact the political parties to see where they stand on this," Carper said.
Kanawha County officials did not implement community voting this year because the clerk's office was busy dealing with back-to-back elections, he said.
About 16 percent of the county's 133,732 registered voters cast ballots early during the past election. That was down from about 20 percent in 2010, Carper said.
He believes the number of early voters be back up once community voting is implemented.
Community voting has been permitted in the past, but the state required that sites operate for the entire early voting period.
The new law would require the sites to operate for at least five days.
The commissioners also unanimously voted to certify the Nov. 6 election results. The county did not receive any calls for a recount in any of the races.
The results are now official and will be sent to the Secretary of State's Office.