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Voter ID bill with expanded options passes legislature on final day

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin indicated Saturday he’ll sign the Voter ID bill (HB 4013) that passed the legislature Saturday night.

Delegates Rowe, Lane and McCuskey work on the voter ID bill in conference committee Saturday
Delegates Rowe, Lane and McCuskey work on the voter ID bill in conference committee Saturday

The House of Delegates eventually agreed to most of the changes the Senate made to the bill providing for more acceptable forms of identification at polling places.

The additional forms include any local, county or state-issued government card, a debit or bank card, a health insruance card, as well as an affidavit signed by a poll worker on site identifying the voter as someone they have known for at least six months.

A conference committee agreed to remove credit cards and paychecks as acceptable forms of ID in discussions Saturday.

Proponent to Senate’s amendments, Senator Corey Palumbo (D – Kanawha, 17) went into the conference meeting, he expected more to be cut.

“I hate to lose any of the options that we had,” he said. “If we’re going to make a voter ID law, let’s make it as easy for folks to comply with as possible. Let’s give them as many options that we can to comply.”

The major hangup for opponents of expanding what could be considered acceptable IDs was the possibility of someone stealing one of the forms and voting fraudulently. However, proponents touted the other systems put in place to catch identity theft.

A provision to require photo identification was also removed on agreement by the committee.

Another aspect of the bill Palumbo was anticipating more push back on was an automatic voter registration provision for anyone getting a driver’s license beginning July 1, 2017.

“They did a little bit, but we still were able to keep that,” he said. “To me, that’s huge because I think that brings more voters to the table. They may not go to the polls, but it’s going to result in more people being registered to vote.”

Currently, those getting their license can opt in to receiving their voter registration, but the new legislation would alter that to an opt out system.

There were concerns on how the DMV would be able to take on this task, but the committee designated rule-making authority to the Secretary of State to sort it out.

“That’s right in their wheelhouse. They’ll be able to handle that,” Palumbo said.

The House passed the conference committee version of the bill, 77-21. The Senate later followed suit by a vote of 26-8.

Some opponents of the bill have called it voter suppression, but Gov. Tomblin told reporters Saturday he wasn’t really concerned about the bill.

He’s expected to sign it in the near future.





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