Emily Allen Published

W.Va. Lawmakers Run Out Of Time On Some Election-Themed Bills

West Virginia House delegates mingle before the floor session on Tuesday, April 7, 2021.

With only three days left in the legislative session, Senate Bill 565 — which in 40 pages updates various provisions of the state’s election law — will not leave the House Judiciary Committee in time to pass the lower chamber.

This legislation would have moved the state’s 10-day early voting period back by four days without altering the amount of time made available to those who want to cast a ballot before Election Day.

It would have shortened the time that clerks have to wait before reaching out to households where registered voters might have moved or died, altered absentee ballot application deadlines and updated the Division of Motor Vehicles’ process for automatically registering voters who obtain a West Virginia driver’s license.

The bill also proposed moving the process for contested election results to the circuit court and creating a misdemeanor for interfering with elections.

The secretary of state’s office has said numerous provisions of this bill were to help county clerks by offering more time to prepare for Election Day. However, advocacy groups and organizations for voters’ rights said during a public hearing Monday that some of these provisions risk making the election process less accessible for West Virginians.

In a statement Wednesday, Secretary of State Mac Warner said the House Judiciary Committee requested more time “beyond the current session” to consider the legislation.

“Taking whatever time is necessary to discuss effective administration of elections instills confidence in our process,” Warner said in a written statement.

House Bill 3307 is another elections-related bill bearing support from Warner’s office that hasn’t left the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it was referred after passing the House last Wednesday. The bill would have authorized Warner’s office to approve informational elections content that a social media platform publishes.