Briana Heaney Published

Senate Moves To Narrow Voter Registration Laws

A picture of voting booth tables with a display of the American flag.Adobe Stock

How long you can stay active as a voter without using that right may be changing if a bill passed Thursday by the Senate becomes law.  

Senate Bill 622, changes the time period of voting inactivity for removal from voter registration. Currently, a voter can go four years without voting or updating voter information before being considered inactive. This bill moves it to two years. 

For example, if a voter didn’t vote in one presidential election, they could be ineligible to vote in the next presidential election. 

The bill is a use it or lose it voting law. If voters don’t vote for more than two years, they get flagged. 

However, if voters confirm their address or register for a change of address, they will stay registered to vote, and their inactive status will be dropped. Voters can vote in any local, state or federal election or ballot to stay an active voter. 

Lead sponsor of the bill Sen. Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, said the bill is to make sure voters are not registered to vote in two different precincts and to verify voter eligibility. 

“We’ve been working on purging our voter rolls quite a bit,” Tarr said. “I think the first purge we did of 400,000 people who were not eligible to vote in West Virginia who had voter registration. So this bill is about making sure that people who show up to vote are people who are eligible to vote.”  

The bill is similar to a law passed in Ohio that led to a Supreme Court case and nearly 150,000 Ohio voters being purged from the state roll.