Over the last two years, we saw few laws passed related to elections in West Virginia — in 2021, no elections-related laws were passed. In 2022, the Legislature passed a mixed bag of voting laws, including protecting voters against harassment, creating harsher penalties for voting-related crimes, and a ban on private funding for elections. Given that the state could have passed much more harmful legislation over the last two years, and taking into consideration the minor pro-voter wins in 2022, West Virginia received a B- on this year’s progress report.
Where West Virginia Started in 2020
- Automatic Voter Registration: Hard Stop
- Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
- Same-Day Registration: No
- Restoration of Rights: Parole and/or Probation Disenfranchisement
- Vote by Mail: Excuse-Only
- Electronic Registration Information Center Member: Yes
- Early Voting Opportunities: In-Person Absentee
- ID Requirements: ID Requested, but not Required
Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for West Virginia as of 2020, we considered the state a bottom tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2021-22 activity against other bottom tier states.
How Our Tier Compares:
2021: Two Years Ago
The West Virginia Legislature did not pass any election-related laws during the 2021 session.
2022: This Past Year
The West Virginia Legislature was restrained in its approach to election law changes during the 2022 session, and the few laws it passed focused mostly on election-related crimes. Given the current landscape of the state and previous attempts from elected officials to pass voter restriction legislation, this is viewed as an overall win.
- H 4299 makes it a misdemeanor to intentionally “physically interfere” with a voter’s access to the polls in an effort to intimate or harass the voter.
- H 4311 raises the penalties for all crimes related to voting more than once from a misdemeanor to a felony.
- H 4097 prohibits election officials from directly accepting private funds for election administration. However, it does allow private funds to be disbursed to local jurisdictions through the secretary of state’s office, with approval from the State Election Commission.