H. B. 2142
(By Delegate Gillespie)
[Introduced January 14, 1998; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact section twenty-three, article five, chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to elections;
and allowing duly registered voters who sign petitions to place the names of candidates for public office on the ballot to vote in the following primary election.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section twenty-three, article five, chapter three of
the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one,
as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5. PRIMARY ELECTIONS AND NOMINATING PROCEDURES.
§3-5-23. Certificate nominations; requirements and control;
(a) Groups of citizens having no party organization may nominate candidates for public office otherwise than by
conventions or primary elections. In such case, the candidate or
candidates, jointly or severally, shall file a declaration with
the secretary of state if the office is to be filled by the
voters of more than one county, or with the clerk of the circuit
court of the county if the office is to be filled by the voters
of one county or political subdivision thereof; such declaration
to be filed at least thirty days prior to the time of filing the
certificate provided by section twenty-four of this article:
Provided, That the deadline for filing the certificate for
persons seeking ballot access as a candidate for the office of
president or vice president shall be filed not later than the
first day of August preceding the general election. At the time
of filing of such declaration each candidate shall pay the filing
fee required by law, and if such declaration is not so filed or
the filing fee so paid, the certificate shall not be received by
the secretary of state, or clerk of the circuit court, as the
case may be.
(b) The person or persons soliciting or canvassing
signatures of duly qualified voters on such certificate or
certificates, may solicit or canvass duly registered voters
residing within the county, district, or other political division
represented by the office sought, but must first obtain from the clerk of the county commission credentials which must be
exhibited to each voter canvassed or solicited, which credentials
may be in the following form or effect:
State of West Virginia, County of ................., ss:
This certifies that ............................, a duly
registered voter of this State; whose post-office address is
........................., is hereby authorized to solicit and
canvass duly registered voters residing in
........................... (here place the county, district or
other political division represented by the office sought) to
sign a certificate purporting to nominate
.............................. (here place name of candidate
heading list on certificate) for the office of
................................. and others, at the general
election to be held on ..........................., 19......
Given under my hand and the seal of my office this
................. day of ........................., 19......
Clerk, County Commission of ........... County.
The clerk of each county commission, upon proper application
made as herein provided, shall issue such credentials and shall
keep a record thereof.
(c) The certificate shall be personally signed by duly registered voters, in their own proper handwriting or by their
marks duly witnessed, who must be residents within the county,
district or other political division represented by the office
sought wherein such canvass or solicitation is made by the person
or persons duly authorized. Such signatures need not all be on
one certificate. The number of such signatures shall be equal to
not less than one percent of the entire vote cast at the last
preceding general election for the office in the state, district,
county or other political division for which the nomination is to
be made, but in no event shall the number be less than twenty- five. Where two or more nominations may be made for the same
office, the total of the votes cast at the last preceding general
election for the candidates receiving the highest number of votes
on each ticket for such office shall constitute the entire vote.
No signature on such certificate shall be counted unless it be
that of a duly registered voter of the county, district or other
political division represented by the office sought wherein such
certificate was presented.
It shall be the duty of those
soliciting signatures to read to each voter whose signature is
solicited the statement written on the certificate which gives
notice that no person signing such certificate shall vote at any
primary election to be held to nominate candidates for office to
be voted for at the election to be held next after the date of signing such certificate.
(d) Such certificates shall state the name and residence of
each of such candidates; that he is legally qualified to hold
such office; that the subscribers are legally qualified and duly
registered as voters and desire to vote for such candidates; and
may designate, by not more than five words, a brief name of the
party which such candidates represent and may adopt a device or
emblem to be printed on the official ballot. All candidates
nominated by the signing of such certificates shall have their
names placed on the official ballot as candidates, as if
otherwise nominated under the provisions of this chapter.
The secretary of state shall prescribe the form and content
of the nomination certificates to be used for soliciting
The content shall include the language to be used in
giving written and oral notice to each voter that signing of the
nominating certificate forfeits that voter's right to vote in the
corresponding primary election. Notwithstanding any other
provision of this code to the contrary, a duly registered voter
may sign the petition provided for in this section and may vote
for candidates of his or her political party at any primary
election held to nominate candidates for office.
Offices to be filled by the voters of more than one county
shall use separate petition forms for the signatures of qualified voters for each county.
(e) The secretary of state, or the clerk of the circuit
court, as the case may be, may investigate the validity of such
certificates and the signatures thereon, and if upon such
investigation there may be doubt as to the legitimacy and the
validity of such certificate, he may request the attorney general
of the state, or the prosecuting attorney of the county, to
institute a quo warranto proceeding against the nominee or
nominees by certificate to determine his or their right to such
nomination to public office, and upon request being made, the
attorney general or prosecuting attorney shall institute such quo
(f) Any person violating the provisions hereof, in addition
to penalties prescribed elsewhere for violation of this chapter,
shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be
fined not more than one thousand dollars, or confined in the
county jail for not more than one year, or both, in the
discretion of the court.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to allow duly registered
voters who sign petitions to place the name of a candidate for
office on the ballot to vote at primary elections.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.