Voter ID law to take effect in WV Jan. 1

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Voting

The burden of proof at the polls will be on West Virginia voters starting this year.

A law requiring voters to present identification before they can vote will take effect Monday. The law was passed by the West Virginia Legislature in 2016.

For any election taking place after Monday, voters in the Mountain State will have to present valid identification to poll workers or have another registered voter state under oath that the person is who he or she claims to be.

There are 18 documents that constitute a valid identification defined in the law.

Any state or federal government-issued identification card is a valid document, regardless of whether it has a photo. That includes driver’s licenses and passports, student IDs, Social Security cards, Medicare and Medicaid cards, concealed carry permits, and hunting and fishing licenses.

There are some nongovernment documents that also are valid forms of identification. They include a bank card, insurance card or a bank statement.

If a voter doesn’t have any of those forms of identification, he or she can bring an adult to attest to his or her identity by signing an affidavit. The adult would have to verify he or she has known the voter for at least six months and provide his or her own valid photo identification.

Another part of the 2016 law will not go into effect this year.

The law set up a process that will lead to automatic voter registration at the Division of Motor Vehicles. Unless a person specifically declines to do so, every person will be registered to vote when he or she obtains or updates his or her driver’s license or state identification cards.

The automatic registration originally was set to begin in July, but during the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers voted to delay the initiative until July 1, 2019.

A person’s ability to get an absentee ballot could be affected by the automatic registration process starting in the 2020 general election cycle.

When a person mails an application to renew his or her license or identification, that person will be required to vote in person during the next election.

If a person fills out the application and renews a license or identification in person at the DMV, he or she will not be required to vote in person during the next election.

Those voting provisions won’t be in effect until automatic registration begins in 2019.

The primary election for the 2018 midterm election cycle will take place May 8. The midterm election is Nov. 6.

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