Ensuring Eligible WV Voters Are Not Disenfranchised


On January 10, 2020, West Virginia Secretary of State Warner announced an agreement with the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to use DMV information to identify supposed non-citizens on the voter rolls. However, Secretary Warner did not explain the methodology that the Secretary of State’s office will use in comparing DMV data to voter records, which is concerning because past similar efforts have used dangerously inaccurate methodologies that risk removing eligible voters from the rolls. 

Among other things, that comparison process may lead to incorrectly removing naturalized citizens from the voter rolls based on outdated information. For example, Texas was forced in 2019 to pay $450,000 in legal fees after it was discovered that at least 25,000 people flagged as potential non-citizens were selected in error and had already proved their citizenship. The Texas Secretary of State resigned shortly thereafter.

To ensure transparency and to prevent eligible voters from being disenfranchised, Protect Democracy filed Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests to discover more information about what West Virginia is doing. Our goal is to determine whether there are sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that any voter list maintenance is conducted in a technically rigorous way that protects the rights of eligible voters and complies with all other applicable state and federal laws. The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and any potential infringement of that right must be vigorously investigated.

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