VRM in the States: West Virginia
The West Virginia Legislature passed automatic voter registration legislation through a series of bipartisan votes on March 12, 2016, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the bill on April 1. Automatic registration will go into effect at West Virginia DMV offices in 2017. Eligible citizens will be registered to vote through the DMV unless they decline registration. Learn more about automatic registration here.
This effort is part of a trend of state governments advancing automatic registration. In March 2015, Oregon became the first state to pass a law to automatically register eligible citizens when they interact with the DMV. California, Vermont, Connecticut, and Alaska all followed, authorizing automatic registration between 2015 and 2016.
Prior Advances in Voter Registration Modernization
This reform builds upon West Virginia’s existing voter registration modernization efforts:
- Electronic Voter Registration: West Virginia launched electronic voter registration at DMV offices in 2015. Voters input responses electronically and sign an electronic pad. Information is transferred daily to elections officials.
- Online Voter Registration: West Virginia launched online voter registration through the Secretary of State’s office in 2015. Eligible citizens with a state driver’s license or non-driver ID can use the system to register to vote and update their registration information.
- Electronic Pollbooks: Thirty-eight out of 55 West Virginia counties used electronic pollbooks to sign in voters in 2014.
Gains from Voter Registration Modernization in West Virginia
The steps West Virginia has taken thus far have yielded financial benefits for the state. For example:
- During an August 2015 interview with Brennan Center staff, West Virginia election officials estimated that electronic and online voter registration would save staff time on data entry and also reduce postage, mailing, and printing costs.
- West Virginia implemented electronic registration at a cost of approximately $34,000.