(By Delegates Webster, Hatfield, Guthrie, Brown, Palumbo, Spencer, Wells, Andes, Argento, Azinger, Burdiss, Crosier, Doyle, Ellem, Ennis, Fleischauer, Gall, Hutchins, Iaquinta, Kessler, Klempa, Kominar, Longstreth, Manchin, Marshall, Michael, Miller, Moore, Purdue, Perry, Pino, D. Poling, Proudfoot, Shook, Staggers, Stemple, Stephens, Swartzmiller, Talbott, Varner, Williams, Wysong and Yost )

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance study the feasibility of election day registration in and for the State of West Virginia.

WHEREAS, Democracy is served best when the highest possible number of citizens participate; and
WHEREAS, In West Virginia, election turnout lags behind the country. In the 2004 presidential elections, the national turnout average was 60.3% where the turnout in West Virginia was only 53.25%; and
WHEREAS, Voter rates among young people are particularly disheartening; and
WHEREAS, Currently in West Virginia, voter registration applications must be postmarked twenty-one days before election day; and
WHEREAS, At the same time, the greatest share of news attention to elections occurs in the week before the election itself, after the deadline for voter registration has passed; and
WHEREAS, There is no evidence that the act of registering to vote in advance has any correlation to level of political knowledge or interest; and
WHEREAS, Currently there are nine states that have some form of election day or same day voter registration. Those states include states that are largely rural such as Maine, Idaho and Iowa, as well as states with a mix of rural and urban populations, such as Minnesota and Wisconsin; and
WHEREAS, The states of Maine, Wisconsin and Minnesota have had election day registration since the 1970s, while Iowa and North Carolina passed their measures in 2007; and
WHEREAS, Election day registration is a reform that has shown to have a positive impact on election turnout, especially among young people; and
WHEREAS, States that permit election day registration states consistently boast higher turnout than non-election day registration states. In the 2004 Presidential race, election day registration states had an average turnout twelve percentage points higher than the average turnout for non-election day registration states; and
WHEREAS, While that full increase cannot likely be attributed to election day registration alone, research shows that at least three to six percentage points of the increase is directly related to election day registration; therefore, be it
Resolved, by the legislature of West Virginia:
That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance study the feasability of election day registration and its potential impact on elections and on voter turnout in the state of West Virginia.
Further resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2009 on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and be it
Further resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from the legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.