Recently Natalie Tennant, West Virginia's Secretary of State and a Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate, accused a third party of sending out misleading election mailings. Perhaps this third party was just doing her job for her.
Americans for Prosperity, which recently started a West Virginia chapter, sent out mailings alerting voters in eight counties to update their voter registration. This caused the Secretary of State's office to send out notices to voters to discard the mailers.
But it turns out Americans for Prosperity was simply doing the job that the Secretary of State's office didn't do. A story in today's Clarksburg Exponent Telegram tells entirely different story, revealing that Tennant's office didn't send change-of-address- information to County Clerks across West Virginia.
"Both Tennant and county clerks said such notices should come from the clerks’ offices. But clerks said that’s been impossible because Tennant’s office was late in sending them labels with names of voters whose addresses may have changed or notification cards to send to the voters...
...The Secretary of State’s Office was late getting materials to clerks two years ago and very late this year, Harrison County Clerk Susan Thomas said.
Ideally, the county clerk’s office should have received the labels by the end of December in order to send the notices out before the May 13 primary, Thomas said.
'We just got our labels two to three weeks ago,' said Thomas, whose office has its own vendor to print the cards. “This should have been done prior to the election."
In turns out several counties did not get the information from the Secretary of State's office needed to send out these mailings. Instead of admitting they screwed up, spokesperson Jake Glance blamed the counties for not sending a survey questionnaire back.
Tennant's attack on Americans for Prosperity is entirely understandable. They were doing the job she wasn't doing. It seems to be OK for left-leaning groups, such as unions, to organize voter registration efforts. Americans for Prosperity wasn't doing anything worse that.
The real concern is this: how can we expect Natalie Tennant to do her job in the Senate if she can't do her job as Secretary of State?
This isn't the first incident of Tennant being bad at her job as the chief elections officer in West Virginia. She showed lack of knowledge of state law after Senator Robert C. Byrd died in 2010, flip-flopping between not throwing a special election to supporting a special election afterall. She let a convicted felon on the ballot for the 2012 Presidential primary. She's let people on the ballot illegally before, requiring court action to remove them. The list goes on and on.
The worst case scenario, however, is this was an effort to keep more people from changing registrations. As was reported here, the Democratic Party is the only party that saw decreases in voter registration over the the last five years. Some people are switching to the GOP, and Democrats don't want that. She's just delaying the inevitable though: people will either switch parties, or stay registered Democrats and vote Republican anyway.
It's easy to make Americans for Prosperity the scapegoats, but what they did was reveal that Natalie Tennant is not doing her job. West Virginia's voters shouldn't give her a new job, but send her packing.