Glitch in voter registration leaves residents unable to properly vote

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Army veterans Jennifer and Andrew Opyoke moved from Arizona back to West Virginia last year. In February, the couple went to the DMV to changed over their licenses, and made it a priority to register to vote in their new state.

So months later when the couple was looking online for their polling place, they were stunned to learn that they weren't in the voter system and couldn't cast their votes.

"When I put my information in it said I was an inactive voter in Marion County, which is from us living there 15 years ago," said Jennifer Opyoke. "And when I put in my husbands information it showed he was completely out of the system. Which lead to me making phone calls saying 'What is going on? Where is my registration?' I know that we did it."

According to Harrison County Clerk Susan Thomas, the glitch in voter registration comes from the DMV's signature pad system, and has effected roughly five other voters so far.

"It's with the company that owns the keypad, or maintains it," said Thomas. "The information didn't transfer to the Secretary Of State's Office where it belongs. If it didn't get to the Secretary of State then it didn't get to us."

Since the error wasn't found until after the voter registration deadline, registering again wasn't an option. The couple has been able to cast provisional ballots, meaning there is a chance their votes could not be counted.

"They said you can cast a provisional ballot, and my answer to that continuously was that's not acceptable. I did what I was supposed to do. I'd understand if I hadn't registered or didn't do it properly, but this is through no fault of my own," said Opyoke.

The Secretary of State's Office has sent letters to county commissioners on behalf of those effected, but those votes being counted still aren't guaranteed. Issues like this is one reason why Clerk Thomas urges voters to make sure they're registered before the deadline.

Thomas says next year the DMV will start automatically registering everyone who comes in to vote. Including 15-year-olds getting their drivers permits. But with this glitch, officials are worried if their technology will be ready.