“I went to vote early and they told me I wasn’t registered,” Mrs. White said in an agitated voice as she spoke to the county circuit clerk. “I’ve voted every time there was an election since 1956.”

It didn’t take long to register Mrs. White for the next election. She was told where to vote, and the number of the voting district as she had moved to another town in the county.

What happened? Mrs. White forgot she didn’t vote in the last two presidential elections. She was mourning her husband’s death in November 2012, and in 2016 she moved to Kentucky to live with her daughter. Both times she missed voting. Upon returning to West Virginia, she found her registration had been terminated.

The clerk told Mrs. White that when a person misses two presidential elections, their name is removed from the voting rolls. It’s called list maintenance, and is required by federal law. “If a state thinks a voter has died, moved or is no longer eligible, they can be taken off the rolls, but only after they don’t vote in the next two federal elections.”

West Virginia voting rolls are being culled prior to the next election. It is simple to find out about voter registration. Call the county circuit clerk’s office, or go online to: https://services.sos.wv.gov/Elections/Voter/AmIRegisteredToVote

Due to the COVID-19 virus, the new deadline for registration is May 19, and early voting will start May 27 and go through June 6. The West Virginia primary has been changed to June 9, and the state is sending absentee ballots to all registered voters. Those who don’t get a ballot in the mail need to call the clerk to check on their registration.

As Mrs. White told the clerk, “Voting is my duty and my right.”

Nancy Issenberg


Shalom Tazewell


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