Warner a national leader in security

Engaging voters in the democratic process has become a critical challenge in ensuring our liberties-based form of government persists into the future. West Virginia is a national leader in one aspect of that work.

Our secretary of state, Mac Warner, is a recognized national leader in both election security and use of technology to make it easier for people to cast ballots. Ours was the first state in the nation to allow members of the armed forces and other Mountain State residents living overseas to use mobile electronic devices such as smartphones to vote. And in last year’s primary election, residents of six counties were able to use the system.

All well and good, you may react, but what about security? Who’s to say a ballot marked and submitted by smartphone was not cast by someone in the Kremlin, rather than by the registered voter whose name is used?

Warner is ultra-sensitive to that challenge. The system his office has pioneered uses cutting-edge verification and other security procedures.

Making it easier for people to vote — while giving them assurances elections will be honest — is an important way of increasing participation in the political process. In turn, that increases the feeling they have of being real stakeholders in democracy.

To date, Warner’s innovations have benefited greatly from private-sector support. At some point, he may have to ask state legislators for more money to plow ahead.

When and if he does, lawmakers should consider not just the social and political aspects of the work, but also the very real potential that it could help develop West Virginia’s economy.

Rest assured, big technology companies are aware of Warner’s leadership. That may well prompt some to consider bringing new jobs here.