West Virginia once was notorious for having some of the dirtiest elections in the United States. The 1960 Kennedy campaign was famous for flying around the state in a plane hauling briefcases full of cash to fuel get-out-the-vote funds. More recently, however, Mountain State election officials have taken steps to clean voter rolls and crack down on voter fraud.
But that could change this week depending on what happens in the West Virginia legislature.
Three years ago, West Virginia legislators simultaneously passed a voter ID law and automatic voter registration. Automatic voter registration mandates that everyone on a government list be registered to vote, such as the list of people receiving welfare benefits or food assistance. Filling the voter rolls with names from government lists is a top priority of the Left and a federal mandate to do just that has been introduced in Congress as H.R. 1.
Very few states have adopted automatic/mandatory voter registration besides West Virginia. Progressives are powerful in the other states that have adopted AVR, but West Virginia stands alone as a state still in the real world that has adopted one of Nancy Pelosi’s top priorities.
The problem with automatic voter registration is that it produces duplicate registrations. If someone uses a middle initial on one list, and a full middle name on another, they may be registered to vote more than once.
This week, West Virginia legislators have a chance to reverse the mistake of three years ago and end the flirtation with automatic voter registration.
The state’s top election official — Secretary of State Mac Warner — has warned that implementation of automatic voter registration there would be a logistical tangle. This has profound implications for the 2020 federal election.
West Virginia will need to be prepared for an influx of unintended registrations by DMV customers who do not meet citizenship qualifications as well as an exponential increase of opportunities for human errors due to volume.
Automatic voter registration harvests names from DMV lists of drivers and puts those individuals on the voter rolls. The problem we have seen across the country is there are inadequate safeguards — sometimes none at all — to prevent the non-citizens who obtain driver’s licenses from getting on the rolls.
And voter ID is no solution. Most of the aliens who get registered to vote are doing so when they obtain a photo identification card from the DMV.
Aliens getting on the rolls is just one of many problems with automatic voter registration in West Virginia. West Virginia’s statewide voter database simply doesn’t have the ability to absorb in a credible way a flood of names from other government agencies. Part of it is funding, part of it is software infrastructure.
Either way, automatic voter registration simply cannot work in West Virginia.
The question this week is what will the Legislature do? Senate Judiciary Chair Charles S. Trump (R) (no relation) is slated to take up a bill this week to further delay the implementation process.
Meanwhile, automatic voter registration has caused carnage to voter rolls in other states. California’s implementation of auto-registration has been a mess, at best. The implementation of the automatic voter registration system has seen thousands of ineligible people put into active voter status in the state.
West Virginia legislators should heed the warning from California and terminate the mandated voter registration experiment before all the good work of the last two secretaries of State — both a Democrat and a Republican — is undone. The last place West Virginia should model is California.
Update: The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill to extend the deadline for program implementation by another two years. The deadline was first extended to 2019 in 2017.