A push to automatically sign up voters that began with new laws in Oregon and California will soon likely hit a third, notably less liberal state — West Virginia. The proposed change has taken a less-than-conventional route to the governor’s desk. After condemning a Republican voter ID bill as the “voter suppression act,” Democrats offered an amendment to include automatic registration when people get driver’s licenses or IDs. The Republican-led Legislature accepted it without much resistance. The reception was much cooler on the West Coast — only one Republican in California and none in Oregon voted for similar automatic registration setups. And in New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar proposal cleared by Democrats last year.
But West Virginia’s Republican Senate president had only positive things to say. “If managed properly, automatic registration is a great benefit to our citizens and will encourage more people to go to the polls,” said Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer.
Advocacy groups like the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law say West Virginia’s action indicates there shouldn’t be a partisan divide over automatic registration. They point to the Vermont House of Representatives’ recent unanimous vote for automatic registration, and the more than two dozen other states considering similar bills this year.