On April 1, 2016, West Virginia became the third state to authorize automatic voter registration, when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill that the legislature had passed with bipartisan support. Eligible citizens who interact with the DMV will be registered to vote or have their existing registration information updated, unless they decline. Automatic registration will go into effect at West Virginia DMV offices by July 2019. Learn more about automatic registration here.
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.
- Preregistration: West Virginians allow 17-year-olds to preregister to vote.
- Automatic Voter Registration: West Virginia passed automatic voter registration in 2016. The current statutory deadline for implementation is 2021.
Gains from Voter Registration Modernization in West Virginia
The steps West Virginia has taken thus far have yielded increases in voter registrations and 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.
- Between the launch of online voter registration in 2015 and the November 2016 election, the state received 26,771 new voter registration applications through its online portal.