Tennant Pushes For More Technology In Secretary of State’s Office
WHEELING — Democratic West Virginia Secretary of State nominee Natalie Tennant says innovation in the office has stopped over the past four years, and she wants to move it forward again.
Tennant previously served two terms as secretary of state, being elected to the office in 2008 and again in 2012.
In 2016, she was defeated by Republican Mac Warner. Now four years later she will have a rematch with Warner in the Nov. 3 election.
During her tenure, Tennant laid the groundwork for a “One-Stop Business Portal” website. The idea is for this to be a unified on-line location where those seeking to start a business in West Virginia may look for needed information.
It was to contain information from the secretary of state, taxation and revenue, and workforce and labor offices, she explained.
“I started to put the blueprint in place, and the task force together and sent a design out. It’s still the same — except it says ‘coming soon.’
“This means the agencies aren’t all on board.”
Instead of improving the website, Warner had constructed an office building in Charleston to serve as an in-person one-stop shop for businesses.
“I am running to welcome businesses to West Virginia, welcome diversity, respect workers and embrace innovation,” she said.
“That’s why I’m running again. We have to get stuff done, and in a right way that isn’t wasting money.”
She sees ways technology in the office can be better-used.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the need to expand the secretary of state’s office on-line chat capabilities to video, according to Tennant. This would allow the public to schedule face-to-face video appointments with the office so they don’t have to travel to Charleston, she said.
Also, there is a need for automatic voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles in West Virginia, she said. While approved by the West Virginia Legislature after the 2016 election, automatic voting won’t be implemented in the state until at least the summer of 2021 following a series of delays.
“We should have it in place and not even be talking about it,” Tennant said. “We should be talking about the next innovation.”
Tennant said the first thing she would do if elected again is to take off a transaction fee placed on businesses making filings with the Secretary of State’s Office. She said this fee was absorbed by the office during her tenure, but that Warner reinstated it.
She also wants to expand on an initiative she previously championed that would have permitted veterans wanting to start a business to not pay a start-up fee for their first four-years in operation. Tennant wants the spouses of military veterans also to be eligible for the benefit.
“This race is coming down to decency and dignity,” Tennant said. “I’m finding that in other races, too. For me, it comes down to how you treat people.”