April 19, 2024

STATEMENT: Institute for Responsive Government Counters West Virginia, Mississippi Criticism of Executive Order 14019


West Virginia’s Refusal to Accept Federal Voter Registrations Would Violate the National Voter Registration Act and Hinder Veteran Voter Participation

For Immediate Release: 

April 19, 2024



CHICAGO, IL — Last week, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson criticized President Joe Biden over his Administration’s Executive Order 14019. The Executive Order on Promoting Voting Access, passed March 7, 2021, directs federal agencies “to consider ways to expand citizens’ opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process,” including ways to provide access to voter registration services and vote-by-mail ballot applications while offering services that directly engage with the public.

On Wednesday April 10, Secretary of State Warner (WV-R) announced that, “West Virginia will emphatically not give up [the] state’s duty to register voters in a nonpartisan manner to the federal government, nor will [they] accept voter registration forms collected by federal agents.” Meanwhile, Secretary of State Watson (MS-R) published a statement on April 10 saying, “The federal government should not be in the business of registering and turning out voters in Mississippi.”

West Virginia’s refusal to accept federal voter registrations would impact the efforts of federal agencies like armed services recruitment offices, which work to register armed service members. Rejecting federal voter registration forms would also be a violation of the National Voter Registration Act.

“Instead of working to ensure more eligible Americans have easy opportunities to register to vote – including our armed service members – West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner wants to illegally refuse federal voter registrations as a partisan political stunt,” said Sam Oliker-Friedland, executive director of the Institute for Responsive Government.

“West Virginians deserve every opportunity to make their voices heard at the ballot box, yet Secretary Warner continues to find opportunities to make West Virginia elections less accessible, less accurate, and less secure – whether withdrawing the state from the nonpartisan Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) last year to potentially denying federal voter registrations from armed services recruitment offices in a federal election year,” Oliker-Friedland added. “There are countless improvements Secretary Warner could make to improve and strengthen West Virginia democracy instead of limiting voter access to make a political statement.”

West Virginia received a C- grade in the Institute for Responsive Government’s 2023 Election Policy Scorecards. Mississippi received a D grade.

To speak with Sam Oliker-Friedland about this news out West Virginia and Mississippi, please contact dan@responsivegov.org.


The Institute for Responsive Government is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to ensuring state and federal governments work effectively for the very people they serve. IRG provides data, research, and expertise to elected officials in order to find practical policy solutions that make government systems more efficient, accessible, and responsive.