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VRM in the States: West Virginia

West Virginia approved automatic voter registration in April 2016 with bipartisan support.

Last Updated: December 9, 2019
Published: March 1, 2018

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.