HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (“ACLU-WV”) along with the ACLU National Voting Rights Project and Charleston-based attorney Anthony Majestro filed a class action lawsuit today against Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole for refusing to recognize and permit online voter registration within the county. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Marshall University student Allison Mullins in Federal District Court in Huntington.
“Voting is the most fundamental right in our democracy and needs to be protected,” said Jamie Lynn Crofts, ACLU-WV Legal Director. “Clerks in the other 55 counties in West Virginia have been using the online voter registration system with no known problems. It’s unconstitutional that voters in Cabell County are the only people in the state who can’t register to vote online.”
Prior to the West Virginia Primary in May, Kanawha and Cabell County Clerks refused to recognize online voter registrations. The ACLU-WV filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court of Appeals the week before the primary, but there was not enough time for the court to hear the case before the election. However, Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick processed all of the online applications she received, and Kanawha County voters who used the online system were able to vote in May. However, Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole continued to ignore the constitutional problems with her refusal to use the online system.
“Because Ms. Cole continues to refuse to use the online voter registration system, we were forced to file a lawsuit on behalf of prospective voters in Cabell County,” said Crofts. “We had hoped Ms. Cole would correct her mistakes and register voters who used the online system without a lawsuit, but she is still ignoring her constitutional duties. Constitutionally, citizens in one county cannot be treated differently when it comes to citizens in the rest of the state—particularly where a fundamental right like voting is at issue.”
The ACLU-WV remains committed to ensuring access to the democratic process and will continue to the monitor and investigate any other incidents as they arise across West Virginia.
For additional information, please contact Tim Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.