West Virginia looks at same-day voter registration
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By Steven Allen Adams | West Virginia Watchdog
CHARLESTON — Lawmakers heard discussion on allowing same-day voter registration in West Virginia, though some questioned the costs and the security of such a plan.
Members of Subcommittee C of the Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary heard from experts and election officials in North Carolina about same-day voter registration, which North Carolina allows during its early voting period.
A total of nine states and Washington, D.C. have adopted same-day voter registration, either during early voting or on Election Day itself.
Steven Carbó, senior program director of the Democracy Program at Demos, a liberal advocacy organization, said that same-day voter registration is an effective means of increasing voter registration without added costs or burdens.
A total of 12 states have voter registration deadlines earlier than West Virginia, which closes its voter registration around three weeks before an election. With the population becoming increasingly more mobile and advances in technology, Carbó said that there was no reason to maintain registration deadlines.
“Same-day registration is effective at increasing registration, particularly for people who are more mobile,” Carbó said. “It’s cost effective and does not undermine the integrity of the vote.”
Carbó said same-day voter registration reduces the need for provisional balloting, which creates more work between Election Day and canvassing day. Provisional balloting causes added frustration for voters and election officials. Nationwide, nearly one-third of all provisional ballots were rejected during the 2010 election.
Iowa and North Carolina are the most recent states that adopted same-day voter registration. North Carolina had the greatest increase in voter registration of any state between 2004 and 2008 since implementing the policy.
However, opponents of same-day voter registration say the program is costly, burdensome, and subject to voter fraud. Carbó said that voter fraud has been a non-issue in same-day states. According to Carbó, only 40 voter fraud prosecutions have taken place nationally over the last three years.
“The record is clear about the minimal or total lack of voter fraud,” Carbó said. “People get caught, and they’re prosecuted.”
The subcommittee is also recommending an amendment to the West Virginia Constitution, creating a permanent lieutenant governor position. Currently the Senate President, who is next in the gubernatorial line of succession, has the honorary title of lieutenant governor. The amendment would allow the Governor to choose a lieutenant governor.
If a governor died or resigned, the lieutenant governor would move up and then choose a new lieutenant governor, who would be approved by a majority vote by both the House of Delegates and the state Senate.
The amendment would also limit a governor or someone acting as governor to no more than 10 contiguous years in office, though a governor can take four years off and run another eight years under state law.
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Posted under Elections, Legislation, Legislature, News, West Virginia.
Tags: Election Day, Election Day voter registration, Iowa, North Carolina, Senate President, voter registration, West Virginia, West Virginia Constitution
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