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Category: West Virginia (page 1 of 2)

West Virginia Campaign Finance Pilot Program

By: Jordan Smith

This blog is no stranger to the judicial election structure in the State of West Virginia.  In 2015, one of our posts discussed West Virginia’s transition from partisan to nonpartisan judicial election.  Today, this blog returns to the West Virginia judiciary to discuss the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Public Campaign Financing Pilot Program (“Pilot Program”).

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West Virginia’s Relentless March to Expand Voter Registration

By: Jordan Smith 

West Virginia is undergoing what appears to be a voter registration revolution as the state legislature continues to make strides to simplify access to the ballot box.  The following post aims to discuss these advancements in an effort to summarize the current state of voter registration in the Mountain State. 

In 2013, former-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, signed into law SB 477, which amended the state constitution to allow for online voter registration (OVR).  The state was not quick to implement the OVR system, as the Secretary of State’s Office did not unveil an official program until the latter half of 2015.  In essence, the now-implemented OVR application requires a registrant to supply the same information required on the paper registration cards: full name, birthdate, location, citizenship status, last four digits of the registrant’s social security number, and the registrant’s driver’s license/state-issued ID number.  If a registrant does not have a state-issued ID or driver’s license, they must instead complete and submit a standard paper form.  As a result,  while OVR streamlines the process for certain registrants, it does so only for those who would likely have already taken advantage of the “motor voter” provisions of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 or the state’s newer electronic voter registration system at the Department of Motor Vehicles.     
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Registering to Vote, As Easy As Driving a Car?

By: Brooke Hannah

What if registering to vote was as easy as riding a bike? Well, maybe not a bike, but what about as easy and effortless as driving a car after years of experience? While it may not be quite that simple yet, West Virginia has made it close to being that simple as they have just passed a bill allowing for the information of those who get a driver’s license or identification card to be submitted into the voter registration process.  Promoting and simplifying the voter registration process is an important goal for West Virginia. The state has demonstrated its dedication to improving the voter registration process by implementing automatic voter registration, launching online voter registration, and becoming a voting member of the Electronic Registration Information Center (“ERIC”).

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WV: Can’t Change Your Stripes, At Least Not For 60 Days

By: Brooke Hannah

Everyone knows that anxious feeling that starts to creep in as an upcoming deadline gets closer and closer. Everyone also knows the dread and panic that takes over upon realizing a deadline has passed. If you are fortunate, maybe someone will be willing to provide an extension. Or perhaps there is an alternative way to obtain your goal. Unfortunately for Erik Patrick Wells (“Wells”), the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia did not provide him the relief he had hoped for after he sought an alternative way to obtain candidacy after missing a deadline.

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West Virginia Considers New Redistricting Procedures, Including a Citizens Redistricting Commission

By: Stephanie Wilmes

During the most recent session of the West Virginia legislature, state lawmakers introduced two new bills, House Bill 2129 and House Joint Resolution 21, that would change the way the state draws its district lines. Currently, the West Virginia Constitution requires only that Congressional districts be contiguous, compact, and of equal population; that state Senate districts be “compact, formed of contiguous territory, bounded by county lines, and, as nearly as practicable, equal in population;” and that the arrangement of the districts “shall… be declared by law.”

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West Virginia Moves to Nonpartisan Judicial Elections in 2016

By: Stephanie Wilmes

As of 2013, thirteen states used nonpartisan judicial elections to select their state Supreme Court justice, and eighteen states used nonpartisan elections to select trial court judges at all levels. On March 25, 2015, West Virginia joined their number when Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed HB 2010 into law.

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Rejection of West Virginia congressional map creates more questions than answers

by Chris Lewis

On Jan. 4, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia rejected the state’s new congressional map, the second state to have its map thrown out by the courts this redistricting cycle (Texas’ map was rejected in November). The 2-1 opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District declared the maps unconstitutional due to population variance between the districts, a violation of the “one man, one vote” principle that has been in effect since the 1960’s. While it is commendable that the judges had this tenet in mind when crafting its decision, they deserve scrutiny for a result that will likely have little real impact outside of headaches for state officials and confusion for voters.

Unlike its counterpart in the Lone Star State, West Virginia’s map was passed without much acrimony, overwhelmingly approved by votes of 27-4 in the State Senate and 90-5 in the House of Delegates.  Though Democrats control both houses, just three Republicans voted against the new map, a stark contrast to other states that have seen redistricting turn into bitter partisan battles.  The legislature made just one change, shifting Mason County from the 2nd District (represented by Republican Shelley Moore Capito) to the 3rd District (represented by Democrat Nick Rahall).  The change represented about a one percent change in party affiliation in both districts. Continue reading

Sending out an SOS: The National Association of Secretaries of State Summer Conference

The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) held its annual summer conference in Daniels, WV from July 10-13 this past summer. Much of the conference was geared toward preparation for the 2012 Election cycle. A number of prominent speakers, including a number of state secretaries of state, “federal officials, private sector representatives, voter advocacy organizations and leading academics” voiced their views.

Sec. Kris Kobach, the controversial Secretary of State of Kansas who has become a lightning rod of criticism and praise over the past summer for his efforts in leading the charge against alleged voter fraud (see a 2009 Times profile about then-candidate Kobach here), discussed his state’s Secure and Fair Elections Act as part of his presentation on citizenship requirements for voter registration. He noted that his state’s law was drafted to “withstand judicial scrutiny” taking into account challenges to a similar law passed in Arizona (which Kobach also had a hand in drafting). Secretary Kobach defended laws like this, saying “we all want security in the knowledge that an election was fair… [a]nd that the winner of the election was the person who really won the race”.

Host Secretary Nathalie Tennant also spoke about elections, focusing on the use of technology in communicating with voters. She stressed the importance of using social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Skype to make sure voters know valuable information about upcoming elections. The use of such media might help to increase voter participation, she reasoned, as they are the “type of tools people are using to communicate.” Tennant’s office  recently launched a campaign to educate and inform voters of West Virginia’s upcoming special election for Governor and the necessary steps to register and vote. The media campaign coincides with the beginning of the NCAA football season and compares the two activities (voting and football, that is), calling both “American traditions.” Continue reading

Express Advocacy and the 24-Hour Media

When does a television network endorsing a candidate go over the line? According to the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), Fox News stepped over that line in late August when John Kasich, Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate, asked for contributions to his campaign. During his interview, the network showed the link to the candidate’s website below his name (see the video here).

A screenshot of the YouTube video of the interview

The DGA filed a complaint on September 2 with the Ohio Elections Commission, alleging that Fox made a contribution in the name of an unincorporated business (Ohio Rev. Code §§ 3517.10(I)(5)) and did not identify the source of the political communication (3517.20(A)(2) and (B)(1)).

In laymen’s terms, Democrats are angry that Kasich received free political advertising on a TV network. Their complaint raises an interesting point: What counts as free political advertising? According to the DGA’s complaint, the link Fox provided of Kasich’s website makes the 1 minute and 30 seconds Kasich was on The O’Reilly Factor a political ad. Giving it the title of a political ad attaches certain responsibilities, including a prohibition on “donating” free political advertising, and adding a “paid for by” disclaimer. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Every week, State of Elections brings you the latest news in state election law.

A number of states are passing new legislation in an attempt to curb the influence of special interests on judicial elections.

Wisconsin state Representative Jeff Stone is pushing for voter ID legislation in that state.  The legislature had previously approved a bill that required photo ID at the polls, but the bill was vetoed by the Governor.

The Maryland legislature is currently debating a bill that would allow 16 year olds to register to vote.

In California, two candidates for state attorney general are preparing for a court battle over what titles they can attach to their names on the ballot.  Titles and nicknames seem to be a particularly contentious issue lately.  Check out this article from last week about Conrad “Colonel”  Reynolds and “Porky” Kimbrell, and their efforts to put their nicknames on the ballot.  Spoiler alert: Colonel = flagrant violation of election law, Porky = perfectly legal.

Here’s an interesting post about the 2010 census and redistricting from the Balkinization blog.

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