West Virginia voter ID law begins Jan. 1

PARKERSBURG –Beginning Jan. 1, voters will have to show an identification proving who they are before they vote in West Virginia.

The new voter identification law, passed by the Legislature in 2016 and signed by former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, will require a voter to provide identification before casting a ballot during early voting or on election day and changes the types of identification that would be accepted, according to Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes.

“Beginning Jan. 1, you will have to produce some form of ID,” said Rhodes, who also is a member of a federal panel studying the past presidential election.

Among the changes is voters will be allowed to use their voters registration card, Rhodes said. Previously, the voters registration card, which does not include a photo, was not among the allowable forms, he said.

“That’s changed,” Rhodes said.

The aim of the legislation is to further eliminate chances for voter fraud, he said. If a person doesn’t have the correct form of indentification, they can still vote a provisional ballot and then produce a valid identification before the official canvassing of the returns by the county commission, Rhodes said.

On Thursday, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner launched the “Be Registered & Be Ready to Vote” campaign to educate voters and elections officials about the types of identification they should have on them at the voting polls.

The acceptable forms on non-photo identifications are a voters registration card, a Medicare card or Social Security card, birth certificate, West Virginia hunting or fishing license, West Virginia S.N.A.P. ID card, West Virginia TANF program ID card, West Virginia Medicaid ID card, bank or debit card, utility bill or bank statement issued within six months of the date of the election or a health insurance card issued to the voter.

Acceptable forms of photo IDs are a West Virginia driver’s license or other West Virginia ID card issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles, a driver’s license issued by another state, a U.S. passport or passport card, a military ID card issued by the U.S., U.S. or West Virginia government employee ID card, student ID card or a concealed carry permit.

Exceptions are:

* The voters accompanied by an adult who has known the voter for at least six months, shows a photo ID with their name and address and signs an affidavit confirming the voter’s identity.

* The voter is known by the pollworker for at least six months.

* Residents of licensed West Virginia care facilities do not have to show ID if they are a resident of the care facility, the care facility is a polling place and the resident’s polling place is located at the care facility.

“With some municipalities holding city elections at the beginning of the year, we want the public to be aware they will need to show some kind of identification to poll workers,” Warner said. “We want the process to be easy for our voters and to make clear that no voter will be turned away from a polling place because of lack of ID.”

The Elections Division of the Secretary of State is working with county clerks to provide free photo IDs to registered voters who do not have an acceptable type of ID, Warner said. The Secretary of State’s office also is working with groups to distribute information about the law change, including distributing 40,000 rack cards detailing the changes, he said.

Among the participating groups are the County Clerks Association, the Association of Counties, the Municipal League, the West Virginia Press Association, the Bureau of Senior Services, the ACLU of West Virginia, political parties, the NAACP, the Department of Veterans Assistance, the Citizen Action Group, the League of Women Voters and Disability Rights of West Virginia.