Senate Bill No. 51
(By Senators Deem and Buckalew)
[Introduced January 14, 1998;
referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article three-a, relating
to elections; and authorizing voting by mail.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new article, designated article three-a, to read
ARTICLE 3A. VOTING BY MAIL.
§3-3A-1. County clerk may conduct election by mail; notice to
governing bodies; election dates when voting by mail
(a) A county clerk may conduct an election by mail in the county or in a municipality under the supervision of the
secretary of state. In deciding to conduct an election by mail,
the county clerk may consider requests from the governing body of
the county or municipality and shall consider whether conducting
the election by mail will be economically and administratively
(b) A statewide election may be conducted by mail.
Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section,
the secretary of state by rule shall direct that a statewide
election authorized to be conducted by mail under this subsection
be conducted uniformly by mail or at polling places.
(c) Not later than the third Monday in January of each year,
the county clerk shall advise the governing body of the county
and each municipality for which the county clerk is the election
officer that the county clerk may conduct one or more elections
by mail in that year. This subsection does not apply to an
(d) The secretary of state shall adopt rules to provide for
uniformity in the conduct of statewide elections by mail.
(e) Notwithstanding any provision of subsections (a) to (d)
of this section, an election held on the date of the primary or
general election shall not be conducted by mail.
§3-3A-2. Conduct of election by mail.
(a) An election by mail shall be conducted as provided in this section. The secretary of state may adopt rules governing
the procedures for conducting an election by mail. The secretary
of state by rule may modify the provisions as necessary for the
conduct of an election by mail.
(b) If a county clerk conducts an election by mail, the
county clerk may designate the county clerk's office or one
central location in the electoral district in which the election
is conducted as the single place to obtain a replacement ballot
under the provisions of subsection (h) of this section. The
county clerk shall also designate one or more places of deposit
for the ballots cast in the election. The places designated
under this section shall be open on the date of the election for
a period, determined by the county clerk, of twelve or more
(c) The county clerk shall mail an official ballot with a
return identification envelope and a secrecy envelope not sooner
than the twentieth day before the date of an election conducted
by mail and not later than the fourteenth day before the date of
the election, to each person registered as an elector of the
electoral district as of the twenty-first day before the date of
the election. Notwithstanding any other provision of this
subsection, the secretary of state by rule shall specify the date
on which all ballots shall be mailed for any statewide election
conducted by mail under the provisions of subsection (d) or (g) of this section.
(d) For each elector who obtains a certificate of
registration after the twenty-first day before the date of an
election conducted by mail, the county clerk shall make the
official ballot, the return identification envelope and the
secrecy envelope available only at the county clerk's office or
other place designated by the county clerk. An elector to whom
this subsection applies must vote at the election in the county
clerk's office or other place designated by the county clerk.
The elector shall mark the ballot, sign the return identification
envelope, comply with the instructions provided with the ballot
and return the ballot in the return identification envelope to
the county clerk.
(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (c) of this
section, replacement ballots may be mailed not later than the
fifth day before the date of the election or obtained in person
until and including the date of the election from the county
(f) The ballot or ballot label shall contain the following
Any person who, by use of force or other means, unduly
influences an elector to vote in any particular manner or to
refrain from voting, upon conviction, is subject to imprisonment
or a fine, or both.
(g) This subsection applies to an elector to whom subsection
(c) of this section applies. Upon receipt of the ballot the
elector shall mark it, sign the return identification envelope
supplied with the ballot and comply with the instructions
provided with the ballot. The elector may return the marked
ballot to the county clerk by United States mail or by depositing
the ballot at the office of the county clerk or any place of
deposit designated by the county clerk. The ballot must be
returned in the return identification envelope. If the elector
returns the ballot by mail, the elector must provide the postage.
A ballot must be received at the office of the county clerk or
the designated place of deposit not later than the end of the
period determined under subsection (b) of this section on the
date of the election.
(h) An elector may obtain a replacement ballot if the ballot
is destroyed, spoiled, lost or not received by the elector. An
elector seeking a replacement ballot shall sign a sworn statement
that the ballot was destroyed, spoiled, lost or not received and
present the statement to the county clerk before the end of the
period determined under subsection (b) of this section. The
county clerk shall keep a record of each replacement ballot
provided under this subsection.
(i) A ballot shall be counted only if:
(1) It is returned in the return identification envelope:
(2) The envelope is signed by the elector to whom the ballot
is issued; and
(3) The signature is verified as provided in subsection (k)
of this section.
(j) The county clerk shall verify the signature of each
elector on the return identification envelope with the signature
on the elector's registration card, according to the procedure
provided by rules adopted by the secretary of state. If the
county clerk determines that an elector to whom a replacement
ballot has been issued has voted more than once, the county clerk
shall not count any ballot cast by that elector.
(k) Any ballot and any elector casting a ballot may be
challenged pursuant to rules adopted by the secretary of state.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to permit voting by mail.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.