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Tennant says voter registration will improve in W.Va. thanks to bill signed by the governor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says a bill that would allow for automatic voter registration at the Division of Motor Vehicles will save money, time, increase accuracy and curb potential fraud.

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant

“This is a huge step forward for West Virginia,” Tennant told MetroNews. “Automatic voter registration seems like the next logical step in modernizing our elections and that’s what will take place here.”

The bill (HB 4013), signed into law by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, calls for a resident’s information to be submitted into the voter registration process whenever he or show goes to the DMV for issuance, renewal or to change a driver’s license or an official ID card. That part of the legislation will take effect July 1, 2017.

With West Virginia’s online voter registration system introduced last year and the new automatic process, Tennant said it’s a great way to expand their list of registered voters.

“We certainly should be making it easier for folks to be able to vote. At the same time, we are keeping those voter roles maintained and correct that really puts the integrity of the election at the forefront,” she said.

Information collected through the automatic system at the DMV will be sent to the Secretary of State’s Office and then on to the county clerk, Tennant said.

The bill would also allow for certain exemptions at polling places for those who don’t possess a photo ID.

“What will be coming into effect in 2018 is a whole list of possibilities — whether it’s a health card, whether it’s a debit card or your voter registration card. You just have to show that type of identification,” Tennant said.

Tennant said West Virginia is the third state in the nation to pass a bill that includes automatic voter registration.

The Secretary will be working with DMV officials and county clerks over the next few months to lay the groundwork for the procedural rules before presenting it to the state Legislature in 2017.

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