Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant has been named to a national panel of experts that will establish sound administrative election practices in emergency conditions.
The National Association of Secretaries of State announced the formation of the panel today, which includes Secretary Tennant along with representatives from 21 other states and the District of Columbia.
The task force is a national initiative, formed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the East Coast just days before the presidential election on November 6, 2012. In West Virginia, several polling locations were without electricity and heat in the days after the storm dumped several feet of snow across the state. Precincts in Lewis, Upshur, Randolph, Tucker, and Preston Counties were relocated and voters were able to cast their ballots in Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH) facilities set up and maintained by the National Guard. The Secretary of State’s Office also worked closely with county clerks, utility companies, and emergency crews to make sure no voters were disenfranchised on Election Day.
“West Virginia had a very unique experience with Hurricane Sandy, and I think the way we handled it can be useful information for other states,” Secretary Tennant said. “We worked closely with other agencies to make sure that the voter experienced as little difficulty casting their ballot as possible. That included setting up these heated DRASH tents in the parking lots of polling places that didn’t have any electricity. I look forward to a very good discussion about emergency preparedness and hope to share what we did here to make Election Day a success, and also to learn what other states did that we may be able to do here in the event of another unforeseen emergency.”
The task force, which will convene by conference call beginning in March, will determine the range of issues that will be researched and addressed. Emergency planning and response issues that arose due to Hurricane Sandy included emergency voting/absentee ballot procedures, state-local/municipal information-sharing and emergency communications, equipment shortages, emergency authority issues and continuity of elections.
The task force's white paper is scheduled to be released early next year.
The members of the national task force are:
Task Force Co-Chairs:
- Connecticut: Denise Merrill, Secretary of State
- Louisiana: Tom Schedler, Secretary of State
Task Force Members:
- West Virginia: Natalie E. Tennant, Secretary of State
- Arkansas: Mark Martin, Secretary of State
- California: Debra Bowen, Secretary of State
- Colorado: Scott Gessler, Secretary of State
- Delaware: Elaine Manlove, Commissioner, State Election Commission
- District of Columbia: Clifford Tatum, Executive Director, District Board of Elections
- Florida: Ken Detzner, Secretary of State
- Georgia: Brian Kemp, Secretary of State
- Illinois: Becky Glazier, Assistant to Executive Director, State Board of Elections
- Kentucky: Alison Lundergan Grimes, Secretary of State
- Maryland: Linda Lamone, Administrator, State Board of Elections
- Michigan: Ruth Johnson, Secretary of State
- Minnesota: Mark Ritchie, Secretary of State
- Mississippi: Delbert Hosemann, Jr., Secretary of State
- Nevada: Ross Miller, Secretary of State
- New York: Robert Brehm & Todd Valentine, Co-Directors, State Board of Elections
- North Carolina: Gary Bartlett, Executive Director, State Board of Elections
- Oregon: Kate Brown, Secretary of State
- South Carolina: Marci Andino, Executive Director, State Election Commission
- Virginia: Donald Palmer, Secretary, State Board of Elections
- Wisconsin: Kevin Kennedy, Director and General Counsel, Government Accountability Board