In the hills of West Virginia you can find an area of the country known for its coal mining, but it also has a storied history of military service since the Civil War. In fact, the desire to serve ran so high during the Spanish American War that they had to turn many people away. And in WWI, West Virginia had a greater percentage of men registered and found physically fit than any other state in the nation. So the fact that West Virginia continues to strive to protect its current Heroes in uniform should come as no surprise.
Currently, West Virginia houses 3 military instillations; and is home to just over 12,000 active duty, reserve, and National Guard troops. In addition, the abandoned West Virginia Turnpike tunnel serves as a nationally renowned training ground for everything from combat to disaster training; and in the initial waves of the War on Terror over 1,000 West Virginians had already answered the call to battle.
With so many of its young Heroes deployed around the globe, West Virginia has proved to be a leader in the charge to protect our Heroes’ right to vote. For the 2010 election West Virginia was the first state to allow UOCAVA voters to vote online via a secure internet connection. This service enabled a shocking 82% of requested ballots to be voted and returned. While voter participation normally drops for midterm elections, West Virginia saw an increase in voter participation for the military voters.
This successful program, and others like it in West Virginia, is thanks in large part to the dedicated service that Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant has provided. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that West Virginia does not disenfranchise its Heroes in uniform. She and her administration have made these efforts an important cornerstone of their objectives. These efforts have earned West Virginia the title of a Heroes Vote Initiative All Star State.
As America continues to have a global presence, our Heroes will always find themselves around the globe during elections. But this does not mean that they should have to sacrifice their right to vote, or that their voices have to be silent. Thankfully, West Virginia is standing with us to ensure that our Heroes can vote. It’s your right too.