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U.S. Election Assistance Commission recognizes West Virginia for electronic access to ballot box for voters with certain physical disabilities

Charleston, W. Va.   The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) announced today that the WV Secretary of State’s Office won the national 2020 Clearinghouse Awards, also known as the “Clearie” Awards, for best practices in election administration. 

The EAC gave the award to West Virginia for its critical role in the implementation of Senate Bill 94, which offers a safe, accessible and secure voting alternative to in-person voting for voters with qualifying physical disabilities. With the support of disability rights organizations at every level, Secretary of State Mac Warner coordinated with legislators to facilitate the bill’s unanimous passage in January of 2020.

Secretary Warner’s office worked closely with Disability Rights of West Virginia and the National Federation of the Blind of WV to ensure the system was accessible and to help educate the public on the new option. As a result of the awareness campaign, 271 qualified voters living with a physical disability were able to vote independently, securely, and privately in the 2020 General Election using a secure electronic absentee ballot process.

“West Virginia is proud to continue our bipartisan effort to eliminate barriers to the ballot box. The success of our electronic voting initiative for voters with disabilities is a result of working closely with our legislature, the governor and our county clerks,” said Secretary of State Mac Warner. “We appreciate the EAC recognizing West Virginia’s leadership in this arena.”

CLICK HERE to read more about West Virginia’s limited e-voting initiative. 

CLICK HERE to see a video of how West Virginia’s limited e-voting initiative works. Established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), the EAC is charged with serving as a clearinghouse for election administration information. To further this mission, the EAC launched the Clearies in 2016 to promote best practices in elections and celebrate the accomplishments of election officials.

The Award categories included innovation in election administration; improving accessibility for voters with disabilities; best practices in recruiting, training, and retaining poll workers; and creative and original “I Voted” sticker design. The EAC also announced a new category this year for innovation in election cybersecurity and technology. 

Winners of the Award were selected by two independent panels of election officials from the EAC’s advisory boards.

“This year we are pleased to receive a record-breaking number of Clearie Award submissions, more than tripling the 2019 submissions,” said EAC Chairman Donald Palmer. “The number of Clearie submissions highlights that even though this was a challenging election year, officials continue to modernize and develop programming that will serve as helpful best practices for the coming years. The job of an election official is never done, and we hope to see even more submissions and exceptional examples in 2021.”

Palmer continued, “These best practices are valuable resources as officials continue to administer elections during the pandemic and for years to come.” Now in its fifth year, the Clearie awards recognize the innovative efforts of election officials across America. Entries were judged based on each initiative’s depiction of positive results, innovation, sustainability, outreach efforts, cost-effectiveness, and replicability. More information about each awardee is available on the EAC’s website.

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