Warner visits new election officials in the Northern Panhandle | News, sports, jobs

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West Virginia Secretary of State McWarner, right, speaks with new Ohio County Elections Coordinator Jessica Klinger, right, and Ohio County Manager Randy Russell on Monday.

WHEELING – There are 17 new coordinators out of West Virginia’s 55 counties on their way to the next election. That’s just shy of a third of Mountain State counties that have new people at the helm of the election process for those respective counties. West Virginia Secretary of State McWarner believes this is the greatest amount of change in some time he has seen during his tenure in office.

So it is important, not just these new officials, but all election officials in West Virginia to know what resources are available and that the Secretary of State’s office is always there to help make the election process as smooth as possible every time.

Warner made the rounds of the Northern Panhandle on Monday, speaking to new election officials in three counties — Wetzel County Clerk Jessica Davis, County Marshall Clerk Connie Howard and Ohio County Elections Coordinator Jessica Klinger.

Even though it’s been a year since the 2024 election, Warner said the work never stops.

“You’re getting ready in some way or some way to get the polling staff ready, to get the equipment ready, to train people in the equipment to get the ballots ready,” he said, “we deal with campaign finance reports for candidates, and all that stuff.”

Although 17 new election officials out of 55 counties is a lot, what helps, Warner said, is that about two-thirds of those new officials have worked for years in the county clerk’s office. So they step into roles they’ve been around for a long time.

However, Warner said it’s still very important that we meet face-to-face with election officials in each county, especially the incoming ones. By explaining what and who is available to help, these new officials have the peace of mind of knowing the Secretary of State’s office is willing to help.

“So she’s more comfortable, if she has a question, picking up the phone now and calling me and working with our field representatives,” he said. “This is a key component of the success of the Secretary of State’s office working with clerks is having someone who will actually darken her door and not be surprised the next time he walks in.

Warner continued, “So she feels very comfortable dealing with him, and if she has a problem with, say, a new piece of equipment or a new person in the office that she wants to coach, that’s a phone call.”

Warner said all election officials in West Virginia must feel confident in the integrity of the state’s voting process. The voting equipment available, Warner said, is “the newest and most important”, and is strongly protected from attempts by outside actors to hack and disrupt the process. Warner said he will testify next week before the US Congress about successes in election integrity in West Virginia.

“And I attribute that to people like Jessica doing their jobs here, making sure things are done right county by county,” he said. Once again, West Virginia rose to the top in national security and election integrity. And I am acknowledged, but I simply report what I hear from all of you.”

Klinger has been on the job for two months, and he said everyone at the Ohio County Elections office has been welcoming and helpful. She added that it was a boost to her growth in the job knowing that the Secretary of State’s office was very proactive in helping each county keep the process running smoothly.

“It’s a relief,” Klinger said, “and like[Warner]said, now if I have a problem or a question, when I pick up the phone and call[field actor Jarrod Summers]I can put a face on the name and it’s not just a distant person. So having that face, as You know on the other end of the line helps. And then the staff in the office who’ve been here for a number of years can be tapped into guiding all of this.”

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