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WV Voting reminder causes confusion

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A reminder about voting registration sent out in the mail last week has caused some confusion and stir.

The organization Americans For Prosperity mailed a reminder to unregistered voters to remind them to vote for the upcoming elections, according to a statement from the organization.

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant issued a news release to tell voters the only instances in which a voter needs to update his or her voter registration is if he or she has moved, changed his or her name, or wishes to switch political parties. If none of those apply, a citizen’s voter registration remains valid.

Wendy McCuskey, director of Americans For Prosperity, said the mailer was an effort to increase voter registration.

The mailer, which Tennant's office confirmed was received by citizens in eight counties, included a voter registration card and a pre-paid return envelope addressed to the recipients' county clerks.

Tennant said the county clerks are the only election officials that will contact voters regarding their registration information. She stressed that legitimate contact will never come from a third party group.

“If you have not moved, changed your name, or switched political parties, then you should throw this mailer into the trash because your voter registration is still valid,” Tennant said. “We were made aware of this situation because there was a large number of confused citizens calling our office and the offices of county clerks asking questions about why they had to update their voter registration information. The secretary of state’s office did not send this mailer, and it did not come from county clerks. We don’t know what the purpose of the mailer is but we do know that it is confusing citizens.”

The mailer gives the correct date of the deadline for new voters to register or voters to change registration of April 22.

“In Berkeley County we had several people come into the office and call with questions about this mailer, wondering if they were still registered to vote,” said Berkeley County Chief Deputy Clerk Bonnie Woodfall. “There was a great deal of confusion and they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to vote. The citizens who have called we have reassured them that they are still registered to vote and have encouraged them to throw this mailer away.”

The AFP Foundation sent the following response:

"AFP Foundation recently sent a reminder to individuals, who were not registered to vote based on public records, to participate in the democratic process by taking the first step toward registering. We agree with Secretary Tennant, that there are a lot of reasons someone would need to review or update their registration. Our hope is that more people get registered, educated, and engaged."