CHARLESTON — If House minority leader Tim Armstead and a sizable number in the House of Delegates have their way, voters will be required to show photo identification at the polls in the future.
Armstead, a Republican, is the primary driver behind the proposal that would mandate a photo ID at the polls.
Armstead, who introduced a similar measure last year that fizzled out said he plans to reintroduce the bill during the regular session this year.
The bill has an opponent in Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who argues there is no need for another ID plan in West Virginia.
“We already have ID laws in West Virginia that work,” Tennant said. “We’ve been quite successful. They’ve come up with a solution with a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Armstead, who said what was important was just that a photo be presented at the polling place, countered that the proof could be any document issued by the state or federal governments, such as a driver’s license, a college student’s ID or an employee ID.
He said the effort Armstead would be covered for the most part by funds allocated by the Help America Vote Act.
“We think it would cost about $250,000,” Armstead said, adding most of the cost would be associated with providing IDs for citizens who have none, such as the elderly and those in nursing homes.
“Ninety-six percent of the adult population already has an ID and 83 percent of them are registered voters,” Armstead said, adding in West Virginia there are 162,000 more driver’s licenses and ID cardholders than there are registered voters.
“All of those people have IDs but are not requested to show them when they show up at the polls. They just have to sign a book. I … think it is important we make sure the votes are legally cast votes. Integrity of the electoral process is of the utmost importance.”