By Dan Diorio
Compromise isn't a dirty word when it comes to West Virginia election policy. Fact is, it's quite a useful and productive one.
The Mountain State will become the 34th state to sign into law requirements for identification at the polls to vote (33 are in effect for 2016) and at the same time will also become only the third state to offer automatic voter registration—joining Oregon and California—after House Bill 4013 was signed into law on Friday.
I know what you’re thinking—Friday was April Fool’s Day. But this isn’t a joke. How is it even possible? The answer is a good, old-fashioned legislative compromise.
Republican leaders in West Virginia joined many of their colleagues across the country over the past five years in debating a bill to require some form of identification to be presented at the polls to vote. Democrats, in the minority in both legislative chambers, decried the bill as voter suppression and decided to offer an amendment establishing automatic voter registration in the state.
Surprisingly, they found little resistance to it from Republicans and now West Virginia is the third state in the country to have such a law on the books. It’s a unique piece of legislation that expands voter registration while also placing additional requirements on casting a ballot. Other states may take notice of such a grand bargain on two major election policy issues. The law goes into effect in 2018.
For more information on voter id visit NCSL’s web page and for more information on how automatic voter registration works in different states check out this LegisBrief.
Dan Diorio is a policy specialist in NCSL's Elections Program.