CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Republican member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Chris Pritt announced his candidacy for Secretary of State on Tuesday.
Pritt was elected to the House in 2020 and currently represents the 53rd district as Deputy Majority Whip. On Tuesday he indicated his intention to secure the office currently held by current Secretary of State Mac Warner. Secretary Warner, who issued a candidacy announcement of his own at a January 10, 2023, event, will seek to assume the position of Governor of West Virginia following the conclusion of Governor Jim Justice’s term.
“I’m running because it’s important that we do everything possible to promote election integrity,” Pritt tells LOOTPRESS, detailing plans for a campaign focused on election transparency and the restoration of constituents’ faith in local systems of government.
“One of the things that I think is a political reality now is that, while it used be that all politics was local, you can make the case that all politics is national,” he explains.
“What I mean by that is, things that happen outside of West Virginia in terms of elections – for example, in Arizona when we see what are reasonably considered to be election irregularities and problems with how ballots are being cast – I think that has an impact in the State of West Virginia.
It has an impact in that it could actually discourage people from going out and voting because they see the problems in other states That’s one of the reasons that I’m wanting to run is to ensure that people have the utmost faith in our electoral system here in West Virginia considering what’s happened outside of West Virginia.”
Pritt goes on to commend the work of Secretary Warner in eliminating voter fraud, but maintains that voters throughout the Mountain State may be reluctant to cast their own votes due to nationally perpetrated narratives with regard to the election process.
“It’s very clear to me that Mac Warner has done a great job in terms of reforms and making sure that we have clean elections. But at the same time, the national perception can have an impact on whether people go out and vote here in the State of West Virginia. That’s one of the things that I would like to change going into the future with our system,” he states.
While speaking with LOOTPRESS, Pritt would lay out several strategies for the optimization of election security including random hand recounts, requirement of photo ID for in-person voting, and the appointment of impartial observers at precincts during election time.
“One idea that I have that I would like to implement is, I would like there to be a system where we have randomly selected precincts throughout the entire State of West Virginia for hand recounts. Because people have these impressions about these machines and whether they’re reliable or not. The easiest way to [combat] that – at least in part, in a small way – is to show people that there are no problems with the machines, and if there are any problems with the machines, it will come to comparing what the results were with the machines vs a hand recount, and that’s exactly what I would like to see,” he says, going on to provide further context.
“The way it would work would be, the Secretary of State’s Office would have a system where precincts across the entirety of the state would be randomly selected. The results of the hand recount receipts would be compared to the results of the machines, and then people could see for themselves whether there are any kind of irregularities.”
The Republican Delegate also points to photo ID requirements as one of the more obvious countermeasures to voter fraud, noting that this type of identification is available to most any state resident who wishes to obtain it. This, he explains, could effectively contribute to restoring voter confidence in the election system.
“While we do have voter ID in West Virginia, we don’t have photo ID. I think it’s pretty easy and reasonable for someone to go get a photo ID before they vote. Even if you don’t have a driver’s license, you can go to the DMV and get an identification card made. I think that would also help restore some confidence that people are actually voting who are registered to vote. What I think is important about this is that other states have this. We would not be reinventing the wheel in West Virginia, we would be doing what so many other states are already doing which is [require] photo ID to vote in person.”
Another measure offered as a means of securing the voting process is the appointment what Pritt calls, “election observers,” who would serve as impartial third party witnesses to the process.
“The third reform that I would like to see is, I think that we should allow precincts to appoint volunteer election observers. What would happen is, a party such as the Democrats, Republicans, or a third party could appoint someone who is not paid land is] not [a] poll worker to volunteer for them, and they could be present at polling locations to ensure that there are no irregularities. They would be impartial, and they could contact the Secretary of State’s Office if they perceive some sort of problem.”
Pritt also proposed a system wherein state residents could voluntarily file documents to be registered with the Secretary of State’s Office, which would increase accessibility and contribute to transparency in state government.
“One final reform that I would like to see that doesn’t have to do with elections is a reform where people could actually file documents with the Secretary of State’s office, he says.
“I would like to see a process where, if somebody wanted to, they could voluntarily register documents with the Secretary of State’s Office so that anybody could go online and look at the documents.”
The West Virginia Secretary of State’s responsibilities include the overseeing of the election process throughout the state. This includes voter registration and the reporting of election results. The election for West Virginia Secretary of State will take place on November 5, 2024.