Voter ID: New law can only have positive effect

Claims that attempts to ensure elections are honest are “voter suppression” have been rejected for the most part by West Virginia legislators — and, it needs to be said, the vast majority of those registered to cast ballots. What could be wrong with insisting that only real, live people can vote and that those who show up at the polls are who they claim to be?

Beginning next year, our state will take another step toward securing the election process. A new voter identification law takes effect Jan. 1.

It requires that anyone voting in any election in our state, and that includes municipal and county balloting, show poll workers current identification documents. Photo ID cards are preferred.

There can be exemptions, one of which may give many West Virginians a chuckle. It is that the identification document requirement can be waived if a poll worker knows the prospective voter. Here in the Mountain State, such acquaintance is not unusual.

Secretary of State Mac Warner has launched an education program to ensure both voters and election workers are familiar with the new rules and are not caught by surprise when elections are held.

Warner has done more to ensure elections are honest than any secretary of state in recent memory. He and county officials have spent much of this year cleaning up voter registration rules. Nearly 80,000 people ineligible to vote, sometimes because they have been dead for years, have been removed from the rolls.

At the same time, Warner has made it clear his campaign is not intended to keep legitimate voters away from the polls. He launched a campaign to register more high school students to vote. In November alone, it resulted in 2,731 new registrations. Since Warner took office earlier this year, nearly 40,000 new voters have been registered.

Good for Warner, county election officials, high school administrators and others involved in the comprehensive initiative. It is one more demonstration that here in West Virginia, we believe in truly free, fair elections.