CHAPTER 3. ELECTIONS.
ARTICLE 1A. STATE ELECTION COMMISSION AND SECRETARY OF STATE.
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§3-1A-1. Election commission continued; composition; chairperson;
per diem; traveling expense.
The "State Election Commission," heretofore created, is
continued and is composed of the Secretary of State, and four
persons appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and
consent of the Senate. The commission shall from this membership
elect a chairman for a term of two years. Each member of the
commission shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary
expenses actually paid the per diem and expense reimbursement
established for the Legislature in section seven, article two-a,
chapter four of this code in the performance of his or her duties
as a member of the commission.
§3-1A-2. Qualifications of members of commission.
No member of the commission appointed by the governor shall be
a candidate for or hold any public office other than that of
membership on the commission; nor shall such appointed member be a
member of any committee of a political party. Any person who,
directly or indirectly, (1) designs, owns, manufactures,
distributes or sells any voting machine, or (2) owns any patent
rights or contract rights thereto, or (3) has any interest in any
joint venture, partnership, firm, corporation or association
designing, owning, manufacturing, distributing or selling any
voting machine, or owning any patent rights or contract rights
thereto, shall be disqualified from serving as a member of the
commission. At least one member appointed by the governor shall be
selected with special reference to his expert knowledge as a
student of the problems of public elections. Not more than two
members appointed by the governor shall be members of the same
political party. In case a member appointed by the governor
becomes a candidate for or is appointed to any other public office
or political committee, his office as member of the commission
shall be deemed immediately vacated.
§3-1A-3. Terms of office of commission members; filling vacancies.
The terms of office of the members of the commission shall be
six years. Members in office shall continue as members until their
respective terms expire on the fourth day of June, one thousand
nine hundred sixty-nine and one thousand nine hundred seventy-two.
On the expiration of these terms and every three years thereafter
appointments shall be made for six-year terms. Appointments to
fill vacancies shall be for the unexpired term.
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§3-1A-4. Office and meetings of commission.
(a) The office and place of meeting of the commission is the
office of the Secretary of State in the State Capitol. The
commission may also conduct meetings via video, telephone or
(b) The commission shall hold such meetings as may be called
by the chairman, the Governor or the Secretary of State.
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§3-1A-5. Powers and duties of commission; legislative rules.
(a) The commission has the power and duty to approve or
disapprove applications for approval of any voting machine as
provided in section seven, article four of this chapter.
(b) The commission also shall serve as a body advisory to the
Secretary of State, and, as such, shall have the following powers
(1) To recommend policies and practices pertaining to the
registration of voters and the conduct of elections generally;
(2) To review the work of the office of Secretary of State
pertaining to the duties of that office with respect to elections,
and for this purpose to have access at reasonable times to
pertinent records, books, papers and documents;
(3) To consider and study the election practices of other
jurisdictions, with a view to determining the techniques used in
eliminating fraud in elections and in simplifying election
(4) To advise or make recommendations to the Governor relative
to election practices and policy in the state;
(5) To advise the Secretary of State on carrying out the
duties to which he or she is assigned pursuant to the West Virginia
Supreme Court of Appeals Public Campaign Financing Pilot Program,
established in article twelve of this chapter;
(6) To carry out the duties assigned to the commission by the
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Public Campaign Financing Pilot Program, established in article twelve of this chapter; and
(7) To keep minutes of the transactions of each meeting of the
commission, which shall be public records and filed with the
Secretary of State.
(c) It is the commission's further duty to prepare and
distribute in its name, within available appropriations and upon
the recommendation of the Secretary of State, nonpartisan
educational material to inform voters of the importance of voting,
to encourage voters to vote, to inform voters of election laws and
procedures, and to inform voters of the effect of any public
question, Constitutional amendment or bond issue that is to be
voted upon by all the voters of the state and that has been
authorized to be placed upon the ballot by the Legislature, and
manuals to assist county commissions, ballot commissioners, circuit
and county clerks and other election officials in the proper
performance of their duties in the conduct of elections.
(d) The commission shall propose for promulgation emergency
and legislative rules, in accordance with the provisions of article
three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, as may be necessary to
standardize and make effective the administration of the provisions
of article eight of this chapter, and may propose for promulgation
other rules, in accordance with the provisions of article three,
chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, relating to the conduct and
administration of elections as the commission determines to be
(e) Meetings of the commission conducted for the purpose of
confirming the initial eligibility of individual candidates to
receive public campaign financing under the West Virginia Supreme
Court of Appeals Public Campaign Financing Fund; the authorization
of supplemental distributions from the fund; and the candidate's
ability to receive supplemental distributions pursuant to the
provisions of chapter twelve of this article are expressly exempted
from the public notice and public meeting requirements of article
nine-a, chapter six of this code.
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§3-1A-6. Powers and duties of Secretary of State; exercise of
powers by appointees.
(a) The Secretary of State shall be the chief election
official of the state. Except for those rules required by the
provisions of section five of this article to be promulgated by the
commission, the Secretary of State shall have the authority, after
consultation with the State Election Commission, of which he or she
is a member, to make, amend and rescind such orders and to
promulgate legislative rules, in accordance with the provisions of
chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, as may be necessary to
standardize and make effective the provisions of this chapter. All
election officials, county commissions, clerks of county
commissions, clerks of circuit courts, boards of ballot
commissioners, election commissioners and poll clerks shall abide
by any orders that may be issued and any legislative rules that may
be promulgated by the Secretary of State and the commission.
(b) The Secretary of State also shall have authority to
require collection and report of statistical information and to
require other reports by county commissions, clerks of county
commissions and clerks of circuit courts.
(c) The Secretary of State shall also advise with election
officials; furnish to the election officials a sufficient number of
indexed copies of the current election laws of West Virginia and
the administrative orders and rules issued or promulgated
thereunder; investigate the administration of election laws, frauds and irregularities in any registration or election; report
violations of election laws to the appropriate prosecuting
officials; and prepare an annual report.
(d) The Secretary of State shall also have the power to
administer oaths and affirmations, issue subpoenas for the
attendance of witnesses, issue subpoena duces tecum to compel the
production of books, papers, records, registration records and
other evidence and fix the time and place for hearing any matters
relating to the administration and enforcement of this chapter, or
the rules promulgated by the State Election Commission or by the
Secretary of State as the chief election official of the state. In
case of disobedience to a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum, he or
she may invoke the aid of any circuit court in requiring the
attendance, evidence and testimony of witnesses and the production
of papers, books, records, registration records and other evidence.
(e) (1) The Secretary of State shall also have the power,
after consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Military
Affairs and Public Safety, to implement emergency procedures and
rules to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to
cast a valid ballot and to uphold the integrity of an election in
the event of natural disaster as declared by the Governor of this
state, terrorist attack, war or general emergency, if any of which
occur during or immediately preceding an election.
(2) For purposes of this subsection, a "general emergency"
means circumstances preventing the casting of ballots in one or more voting precincts. The chief judge of the circuit court of the
county where the casting of ballots is being prevented must declare
by order that a general emergency exists."
(f) All powers and duties vested in the Secretary of State
pursuant to this article may be exercised by appointees of the
Secretary of State at his or her discretion, but the Secretary of
State shall be responsible for their acts.
§3-1A-7. Candidate's financial disclosure statement.
Candidates for election to any state, county or municipal
office, county school board, district school board, or to the
position of county or district school board superintendent, shall
file a financial disclosure statement with the ethics commission as
may be required under subsection (a), section six, article two,
chapter six-b of this code.
§3-1A-8. Investigators for the secretary of state.
An employee of the secretary of state, who has attended a
course of instruction at the state police academy or its
equivalent, has all the lawful powers delegated to members of the
department of public safety to enforce the provisions of this
chapter and the criminal laws of the state in any county or
municipality of this state. An employee shall, before entering
upon the discharge of his or her duties, execute a bond with
security in the sum of three thousand five hundred dollars, payable
to the state of West Virginia, conditioned for the faithful
performance of his or her duties, as such, and such bond shall be
approved as to form by the attorney general, and the bond shall be
filed with the secretary of state and preserved in his or her
office. The department of public safety, and any county sheriff or
deputy sheriff or any municipal police officer, upon request by the
secretary of state or his or her appointee, is authorized to assist
the secretary of state or his or her appointee in enforcing the
provisions of this chapter and the criminal laws of the state.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session