Secretary of State says mass mailing has caused confusion

By Associated Press
Published May 9th 2008 in Charleston Daily Mail
The Secretary of State's office is reminding first-time voters that the deadline to register to vote in Tuesday's primary already has passed.

Betty Ireland said she's worried that a mass mailing aimed at getting young women in West Virginia to register to vote might cause confusion.

A group called "Women's Voices. Women Vote" sent out more than 16,000 mailers to unmarried women in the state after April 22, the last day to register in time to vote Tuesday.

People who've never voted can still register, but they won't be eligible to cast a ballot in the primary.

Page Gardner, president of the women's organization, said in a letter that:

"West Virginia residents will receive this mail after the deadline for registering to vote to participate in the upcoming primary election.  Please be aware that the mailing is not intended to encourage registration specifically for the primary, but simply to encourage voter registration in general.

The mailing clearly indicates that the deadline to register to vote by mail for a particular election in West Virginia is 20 days before the election ... We hope that this unfortunate coincidence in timing does not lead to any confusion or aggravation for either your state's voters or registrars."

Ireland's office said it received a batch of voter registration forms as a result of the group's mass mailing, and many of them were from people already registered.

Ireland said she wants to assure already registered voters that they do not need to register again to vote in Tuesday's primary. However, those voters who used the women's group's registration form to update their address should contact their county clerk's office to determine their proper voting precinct.

"I do not want registered voters to be confused by this mailing," Ireland said. "If you were already registered to vote, you do not need to re-register."

Anyone with questions about their registration can call the Secretary of State's office at (866) SOS-VOTE or visit the online site and click on the "Am I Registered to Vote?" link.