The House Judiciary Committee worked through a bill Wednesday to require West Virginians to present government-issued photo identification at the polls before casting a ballot. After an hour of discussion, the committee sent the bill (HB 2781) down to a subcommittee for further review. Should it pass, the bill would trump sections of existing legislation (HB 4013), which passed last year and is scheduled to take effect in 2018. That law calls for a lower standard of identification for voters, allowing for bank statements, hunting licenses or having an adult or poll worker vouch for a familiar voter’s identity.
Wednesday’s bill calls residents to show poll workers a valid driver’s license, a West Virginia identification card, a U.S. passport or passport card, an employee photo identification card issued by a government agency or a military photo I.D.
The bill would ban the use of high school or college identification cards, birth certificates, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families identification cards, utility bills, bank cards and other forms of I.D.
Critics of voter identification laws say they serve as a method of preventing poor, minority and elderly voters from casting a ballot. Proponents say they are a necessary maneuver to combat voter fraud.