Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant is meeting with political leaders in India this week as part of an international tour sponsored by the Aspen Institute.
There are about 1.17 billion people in India, with about 814 million voters.
Tennant, a member of the 2009 class of the Rodel Fellowship, also visited China.
The trip is paid for by the Aspen Institute and not state taxpayer money, Tennant said.
According to the organization’s website, “The Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellowship program recognizes that by working to develop thoughtful, committed political leaders, it will also help to produce a more bipartisan approach to America's most important domestic issues such as health care, public education, and the environment.”
The Rodel Fellowship is “not a political program but an educational and leadership training program based on the belief that by exposing participants to a variety of philosophies, viewpoints, and strategies, we will improve the quality of problem-solving in the states and in our local communities.”
West Virginia’s voting initiatives have gained attention not only in the United States but also abroad.
Tennant traveled to an international voting summit in Munich, Germany earlier this year to highlight West Virginia’s online voting pilot program for military and overseas voters. Several states have also been in contact with West Virginia to model their programs after the one recently put into place here.
“This has been an incredible opportunity,” Tennant said from her hotel in New Delhi. “Not only am I surrounded by energetic leaders from around the United States, but we are trading ideas with leaders from around the world. And our programs are getting a lot of attention. West Virginia is a leader when it comes to making more efficient ways to vote safer and more secure.”
Tennant is the first West Virginian to be invited to join the Rodel Fellowship. The program began in 2005, and has included Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D-Missouri), Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele when he was Lieutenant Governor of Maryland.