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West Virginia receives national award for transparency and public education efforts during 2020 elections

Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia was recognized nationally this week for cooperative efforts to communicate effectively with the public during the 2020 election cycle.

Democracy Works is a non-partisan national organization that promotes transparency in elections to encourage voter participation at all levels of the election process. During the 2020 election cycle, Democracy Works teamed up with state and local election officials to enhance the Voting Information Project (“VIP”) to provide voters with reliable election information.

During the 2020 elections, VIP was an essential tool to help voters navigate through the challenges of the pandemic and still participate in the election process. In the November 2020 General Election, more than 802,000 West Virginians cast ballots - the second highest in the history of the state.

State election officials throughout the country provided the VIP coordination team with official election information during the election cycle. The VIP team would then make that information available to online voters through the internet.

"The 2020 election cycle was unprecedented in many ways — including the pressure on election offices to conduct safe, secure elections during a global pandemic." said Lily Schieber, Outreach Associate for VIP.

"Amidst all of these challenges, state election offices continued to take part in VIP. We are incredibly grateful for these efforts, which increased access to election information for millions of voters. To recognize this achievement and celebrate the work of election offices, we are happy to inaugurate the VIP Partner Awards," Schieber said.

On Monday, Democracy Works notified WV Secretary of State Mac Warner that West Virginia was one of the inaugural winners of the VIP Partner Award.

"In the weeks leading up to the elections, our dedicated partners in West Virginia submitted updates to VIP. And on election day, they continued to share updates with our team as they occurred. This consistent communication ensures that voters have access to the most accurate information available."

"The West Virginia Secretary of State's Elections Division has been selected as one of our awardees for 2020, for their exceptional assistance in providing data updates to VIP leading up to election days," Shieber said.

The WV Secretary of State's office welcomed the recognition and praised the partnership with Democracy Works as an important way to help West Virginia communicate effectively with online voters.

"Democracy Works is an avenue that the WV Secretary of State's Office uses to help us create transparency in the elections process," said Brittany Westfall who serves as the WVSOS Elections Division Director. "The greater the transparency, the more confidence voters have in our elections. The higher the voter confidence, the higher the voter participation."

Secretary of State Mac Warner shared Westfall's philosophy.

"Working closely with our county clerks, confidence in West Virginia elections is at an all-time high," Warner said. "In West Virginia we're making it easy to vote and hard to cheat. We're eliminating barriers to the ballot box, cleaning up voter rolls and identifying eligible citizens to register to vote."

Over the last four years, West Virginia has been recognized nationally by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission and the National Association of Secretaries of State for its leadership in administering secure, fair and transparent elections.