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ACLU Sues West Virginia County Clerk Over Online Registration

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia filed suit Thursday against the clerk of Cabell County, West Virginia, for not processing online voter registration forms. The deadline for West Virginia citizens to register to vote in November's election was October 18, but the suit alleges that Karen Cole, the Cabell County clerk, refused to process registration applications submitted online, instead sending would-be voters a letter requesting that they fill out a paper application instead. "These additional steps are not required in any other county in West Virginia," the complaint reads. A Cabell County clerk's office employee said that Cole was not in the office today and unavailable to comment on the suit.

Cabell County, which had the fourth-largest number of registered voters in the state as of September 30, also did not process online registration applications during West Virginia's 2016 primary. The clerk in Kanawha County, Vera McCormick, also declined to recognize online applications before the primary, citing concerns about the process used to verify the identity of registrants. Kanawha County, the largest in the state, eventually processed the online applications, the West Virginia ACLU said in a statement.

The class action suit was filed on behalf of Allison Mullins, a Marshall University student who had moved to Cabell County and tried to update her registration information online.

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Portrait of Derek Willis

Derek Willis

Derek Willis is a news applications developer at ProPublica, focusing on politics and elections.

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ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.

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