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WV Voter registration could be coming to a DMV near you

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A bill Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said she has been working on for the past three years passed the Senate Judiciary Committee March 14.

Senate Bill 477 would allow secure electronic West Virginia voter registration at the Division of Motor Vehicles, and possibly in the future, at some county clerks' offices as well, according to the committee's lawyer.

The bill would outline that information inputted at the DMV would be electronically transferred to the Secretary of State's Office and then distributed the appropriate counties. Paper cards are currently mailed and the information on them is inputted multiple times. The committee's lawyer said 15 other states had similar legislation in place already, and Tennant estimated a savings of $5 per registered voter.

"You see me here today because this is an important bill," Tennant told lawmakers.

She said the cost of updating the software to enact the bill would cost anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000.

"It's not so much the computer for the DMV, the way I see it," Tennant said. "The keypad is already part of what you're registering to get your drivers license, and it's the same information along with a party affiliation and some of the other questions you have to answer as part of voter registration."

Tennant said that week her office had already mailed 1,041 cards and the cost of mailing and sorting those cards as the middle man adds up.

"It still comes to the Secretary of State's Office and then ultimately goes to the county clerk," Tennant explained. "These are applications to become a registered voter.

"The ultimate authority goes to the county clerk's office."

The bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It will be reported to the full Senate for its consideration.