As West Virginians prepare to vote, Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant is equipping them with information about voter verification laws.
In most cases, voters won't need to bring anything with them. Stating their name and address, and signing their name in the poll book are how their identity is verified. The signature they provide at the polling place will be carefully compared to the signature they provided when they registered to vote.
But if it is a voter's first time casting a ballot after registering by mail to vote, a voter will need to bring a valid ID that shows their current residence address. That could be a driver's license or other photo ID, government check, paycheck or any other document that shows their name and current residence address.
Even if a voter does not have these forms of ID, they cannot be denied their right to vote. Their ballot will be a provisional one, meaning it will be up to the Board of Canvassers to make a ruling on whether or not their vote will be counted. In addition, if the voter goes to the county clerk's office before the election is canvassed and presents the proper documentation, the vote should be counted. Voters can even track their provisional ballot and find out whether it was counted using an online feature on the Secretary of State's website at www.wvsos.com. "There is not an instance when someone should need to bring their birth certificate with them to the polling place, as some voters may have received calls," Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said. "For example, if you have voted at the same place for decades and you haven't changed your voter registration in any way, all you have to do in order to vote is state your name and address and sign the poll book. I want the voters of West Virginia, and the poll workers who are on the front lines of this election, to know the rules. I want everyone who is legally entitled to cast a vote and who wants to vote to have that opportunity."
Tennant said recent news coverage of Voter ID laws may have generated confusion about what documentation West Virginia citizens need to bring to the polling place.
She said if voters receive phone calls or other information that tells them they are required to bring additional documentation to the polling place they should contact the Secretary of State's Office at (304) 558-6000 or 1-866-767-8683.
Voters can also make sure where their polling place is located by using an interactive search feature on the Secretary of State's website. To access the database, click on the "Find My Polling Place" banner at the top of the Secretary of State's website at www.wvsos.com and enter your name and birthday.