No Option

Loughry gives up Supreme Court seat

Suspended West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry resigned Friday — but only after it became obvious to him that he had no realistic option.

Loughry resigned from his post, effective at the close of business today.

He is one of two ex-justices charged with federal crimes. Loughry’s actions have been in sharp contrast to those of the other justice, Menis Ketchum.

Ketchum resigned immediately after being charged, then pleaded guilty to charges involving misuse of a state vehicle and gasoline credit card. He is yet to be sentenced.

Loughry, at one time accused of about two dozen assorted crimes, refused to resign. Other justices suspended him.

Then Loughry was convicted of 11 federal offenses. He is seeking a new trial.

After an aborted attempt to impeach Loughry, legislators had been scheduled to try again this week. And he was set to appear before a Judicial Hearing Board that could have led to his removal.

Ketchum deserves some credit for owning up to his mistakes and resigning. Loughry, convicted of far more serious misbehavior, has not done the same.

So Ketchum did the right thing. Loughry, departing only in the face of removal, has refused to emulate his former fellow justice.

•••

West Virginia is receiving international attention for the precise opposite of the voter suppression we hear alleged during every election season. Call it unleashing the vote.

Our chief election officer, Secretary of State Mac Warner, is recognized for technological leadership, including that involved in election security. He is employing it to make it easier to cast ballots, too.

For the general election held Tuesday, nearly 140 West Virginians living abroad in 29 countries were able to vote using remote electronic devices such as smartphones.

Making the process secure against fraud is a technology called blockchain, along with measures ranging from facial recognition to fingerprinting. West Virginia is the first state to operate a blockchain remote voting system on the scale used for this election.

By and large, the pilot program worked well this time around, according to Warner’s office. That could lead to expansion nationwide, serving the approximately 300,000 Americans who live temporarily overseas.

Good for Warner’s office for working to expand, rather than suppress, the vote.

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