(b) If a majority of the eligible voters casting ballots in the election votes in the affirmative on the issue:
(1) All members of the Defined Contribution Retirement System will transfer, or have transferred, all assets held by them or on their behalf in the Defined Contribution Retirement System to the State Teachers Retirement System;
(2) On the date of the merger each member becomes a member and is entitled to the benefits of the State Teachers Retirement System; and
(3) Each member is governed by the provisions of the State Teachers Retirement System subject to the provisions of this article.
(c) If fewer than one half of the members eligible to vote of the Defined Contribution Plan cast ballots in the election, the election is not valid and binding.
(d) Any person who has one dollar or more in assets in the Defined Contribution Retirement System on the last day of December, two thousand five, may and is eligible to vote in the election.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, the board may do all things necessary and convenient to maintain the Defined Contribution Retirement System and the State Teachers Retirement System during the transitional period and may retain the services of the professionals it considers necessary to do so. The board may also retain the services of the professionals it deems necessary to:
(1) Assist in the preparation of educational materials for members of the Defined Contribution Retirement System who are eligible to vote on the merger to inform these members of their options in the election;
(2) Assist in the educational process of the members who are eligible to vote on the merger;
(3) Assist in the election process and the election; and
(4) Ensure compliance with all relevant state and federal laws.
(f) Due to the time constraints inherent in the merger process set forth in this article in specific, and due to the nature of the professional services required by the Consolidated Public Retirement Board in general, the provisions of article three, chapter five-a of this code, relating to the Division of Purchasing of the Department of Administration do not apply to any contracts for any actuarial services, investment services, legal services or other professional services authorized under the provisions of this article.
(g) The election may be held through certified mail or in any other method the board determines is in the best interest of the members. Each ballot shall contain the following language, in bold fifteen-point type: "By casting this ballot I am making an educated, informed and voluntary choice as to my retirement and the retirement system of which I wish to be a member. I am also certifying that I understand the consequences of my vote in this election." Each ballot shall be signed by the member voting. The board shall retain the ballots in a permanent file. Any unsigned ballot is void.
(h) The election period shall begin not later than the first day of March, two thousand six. The board shall ascertain the results of the election not later than the last day of March, two thousand six. The board shall certify the results of the election to the Governor, the Legislature and the members not later than the fifth day of April, two thousand six.
(i) The election period terminates and votes may not be cast or counted after the twelfth day of March, two thousand six, unless the election is conducted through the United States mail. If conducted through the mail, any ballot postmarked later than the twelfth day of March, two thousand six, is void and may not be counted.
(j) The board shall take all necessary steps to see that the merger does not affect the qualified status with the Internal Revenue Service of either retirement plan.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session