Voter ID Laws: Costly to West Virginia, Aimed at a Problem That Does Not Exist
Contact: Sean O'Leary, 304-720-8682 or firstname.lastname@example.org
– Legislation that would require voters to have a photo ID before they can cast their ballots has once again been introduced in West Virginia. While the purpose of this law is to curtail voter fraud, West Virginia has had just 16 cases of election fraud since 2000, all of which were committed by campaign or election officials. And none of these cases would have been prevented by the proposed law. Read report.
In addition, enforcing the new law would cost the state millions over a five-year period, according to a report issued today by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, "West Virginia Photo Voter ID Law: An Expensive Solution Looking For a Problem."
"Not only would a Voter ID law create unnecessary expenses for West Virginia, by addressing a problem that is virtually nonexistent, but it would also make it more difficult to vote, particularly for seniors and minorities," said Sean O'Leary, policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and author of today's report.
"Instead of spending millions of dollars creating new barriers to voting through a Voter ID law, West Virginia should be looking at ways to improve our voter participation rate, which is one of the worst in the country," continued O'Leary.
The purpose of Voter ID laws is misguided. While they prevent voter impersonation, they do not stop election fraud such as ballot tampering, absentee ballot fraud and purging of voter rolls. There have been only 10 reported cases of voter impersonation in the nation since 2000, none of which occurred in West Virginia.
States with Voter ID laws must create education and outreach programs and provide free IDs for many residents in order to preserve the laws' constitutionality. The fiscal note attached to West Virginia's proposed law does not include the expenses for these requirements.
"At a time when the state is cutting funding for domestic violence prevention, higher education and other important programs, policymakers should not be considering legislation that needlessly spends vital resources," stated Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.