Charleston, W.Va. – An historic bill that modernizes the voter registration system in West Virginia passed the state legislature today, one that Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said will save money and reduce paperwork for county clerks and state agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Senate Bill 477 allows citizens to fill out their voter registration application electronically. The application will still need to be processed and approved by the appropriate county clerk before a voter’s registration card is issued.
The bill is the result of cooperation between the Secretary of State’s Office, the DMV, and county clerks across West Virginia.
“Citizens will be able to fill out their voter registration application electronically at the DMV, at their local library, or at their house – anywhere they have access to a computer,” Secretary Tennant said. “This legislation makes it easier for people to apply to become a registered voter, but still keeps in place all the safeguards to make sure these people live where they say they live. This legislation will cut down on the number of paper applications county clerks will have to process, saving some valuable time and reducing costs.”
SB477 is the most recent of Secretary Tennant’s bold initiatives to modernize the elections process in West Virginia. Other successful efforts were a pilot project that allowed deployed military and their families vote over a secure internet connection, a Vote By Mail pilot project, and a process that allowed counties to utilize community voting locations.
“In all of our initiatives we have focused not only on helping the voter, but on security. West Virginia has become a leader in many of these areas and we have done it by working closely with county clerks to find a solution that helped the voter, cut down on paperwork, and maintained the integrity of the process.”
Citizens will still be able to fill out their voter registration application on paper and send it to their county clerk’s office.
SB477 now awaits Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s signature to become law. Once it is signed, West Virginia will become one of 19 states to offer some sort of online voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. There are currently 14 other states considering online voter registration, according to the NCSL.