(a) The commission has the power and duty to approve or disapprove applications for approval of any voting machine as provided in section seven, article four of this chapter.
(b) The commission also shall serve as a body advisory to the Secretary of State, and, as such, shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) To recommend policies and practices pertaining to the registration of voters and the conduct of elections generally;
(2) To review the work of the office of Secretary of State pertaining to the duties of that office with respect to elections, and for this purpose to have access at reasonable times to pertinent records, books, papers and documents;
(3) To consider and study the election practices of other jurisdictions, with a view to determining the techniques used in eliminating fraud in elections and in simplifying election procedures;
(4) To advise or make recommendations to the Governor relative to election practices and policy in the state;
(5) To advise the Secretary of State on carrying out the duties to which he or she is assigned pursuant to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Public Campaign Financing Program, established in article twelve of this chapter;
(6) To carry out the duties assigned to the commission by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Public Campaign Financing t Program, established in article twelve of this chapter; and
(7) To keep minutes of the transactions of each meeting of the commission, which shall be public records and filed with the Secretary of State.
(c) It is the commission's further duty to prepare and distribute in its name, within available appropriations and upon the recommendation of the Secretary of State, nonpartisan educational material to inform voters of the importance of voting, to encourage voters to vote, to inform voters of election laws and procedures, and to inform voters of the effect of any public question, Constitutional amendment or bond issue that is to be voted upon by all the voters of the state and that has been authorized to be placed upon the ballot by the Legislature, and manuals to assist county commissions, ballot commissioners, circuit and county clerks and other election officials in the proper performance of their duties in the conduct of elections.
(d) The commission shall propose for promulgation emergency and legislative rules, in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, as may be necessary to standardize and make effective the administration of article eight of this chapter, and may propose for promulgation other rules, in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, relating to the conduct and administration of elections as the commission determines to be advisable.
(e) Meetings of the commission conducted for the purpose of confirming the eligibility of individual candidates to receive public campaign financing under the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Public Campaign Financing Fund are expressly exempted from the public notice and public meeting requirements of article nine-a, chapter six of this code.
(b) The Secretary of State also shall have authority to require collection and report of statistical information and to require other reports by county commissions, clerks of county commissions and clerks of circuit courts.
(c) The Secretary of State shall also advise with election officials; furnish to the election officials a sufficient number of indexed copies of the current election laws of West Virginia and the administrative orders and rules issued or promulgated thereunder; investigate the administration of election laws, frauds and irregularities in any registration or election; report violations of election laws to the appropriate prosecuting officials; and prepare an annual report.
(d) The Secretary of State shall also have the power to administer oaths and affirmations, issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses, issue subpoena duces tecum to compel the production of books, papers, records, registration records and other evidence and fix the time and place for hearing any matters relating to the administration and enforcement of this chapter, or the rules promulgated by the State Election Commission or by the Secretary of State as the chief election official of the state. In case of disobedience to a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum, he or she may invoke the aid of any circuit court in requiring the attendance, evidence and testimony of witnesses and the production of papers, books, records, registration records and other evidence.
(e) (1) The Secretary of State shall also have the power, after consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, to implement emergency procedures and rules to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast a valid ballot and to uphold the integrity of an election in the event of natural disaster as declared by the Governor of this state, terrorist attack, war or general emergency, if any of which occur during or immediately preceding an election.
(2) For purposes of this subsection, a "general emergency" means circumstances preventing the casting of ballots in one or more voting precincts. The chief judge of the circuit court of the county where the casting of ballots is being prevented must declare by order that a general emergency exists."
(f) All powers and duties vested in the Secretary of State pursuant to this article may be exercised by appointees of the Secretary of State at his or her discretion, but the Secretary of State shall be responsible for their acts.
(a) An employee of the Secretary of State, who has attended a course of instruction at the State Police Academy or its equivalent, has all the lawful powers delegated to members of the state police to enforce the provisions of this chapter and the criminal laws of the state in any county or municipality of this state. The Secretary of State may allow an investigator who has met the standards set forth in section four, article seven, chapter sixty-one of this code to carry a firearm and concealed weapon while performing their official duties: Provided, That as a precondition of being authorized to carry a firearm or concealed weapon in the course of their official duties, any such designated personnel must obtain and maintain firearms training and certification which is equivalent to that which is required of members of the state police. The designated persons must also possess a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon in the manner prescribed in article seven, chapter sixty-one of this code, or otherwise be exempted from the code's provisions.
(b) Before entering upon the discharge of his or her duties, an employee shall execute a bond with security in the sum of $3,500, payable to the State of West Virginia, conditioned for the faithful performance of his or her duties. The bond shall be approved as to form by the Attorney General and filed with the Secretary of State and preserved in his or her office. The State Police and a county sheriff or deputy sheriff or a municipal police officer, upon request by the Secretary of State or his or her appointee, is authorized to assist the Secretary of State or his or her appointee in enforcing the provisions of this chapter and the criminal laws of the state.