While federal courts have recently overturned voter ID laws in five states on the grounds they discriminate against minorities and the poor, the lead sponsor and primary author of West Virginia’s voter ID legislation said he believes that law would stand up in court. “We took, I think, great care in drafting the language within the perimeters laid out in the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the last 10 to 12 years,” said Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha. As a practical matter, Lane believes the West Virginia law — which takes effect for the 2018 elections — so broadly defines acceptable types of identification, opponents would be hard-pressed to find someone disenfranchised by it. “I would be surprised if there was a challenge in West Virginia,” he said. “It would be hard for someone not to be able to meet those requirements.”
In addition to driver’s licenses, the West Virginia law recognizes 17 categories of identification as valid for voter IDs, including hunting and fishing licenses, bank credit cards or debit cards, utility bills, health insurance or Medicaid cards, and voter registration cards, among other types of identification.
By comparison, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned North Carolina’s voter ID law because it “targeted African-American voters with almost surgical precision” by restricting approved identification to government-issued photo IDs and passports.