Articles Posted in Election Law

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Petitioner Erik Patrick Wells, a registered Democrat, filed a “Candidate’s Certificate of Announcement for 2016 Partisan Elections” but left blank his party affiliation. Petitioner indicated on a subsequently filed “Minor Party or Independent Candidate Nomination Petition” that he was running for the office of Kanawha County Clerk as an “independent.” Respondent, the State of West Virginia, filed an amended petition for writ of quo warranto. The circuit court granted Respondent’s petition and disallowed Petitioner’s candidacy in the November 8, 2016 general election. The circuit court found that, as a registered member of the Democratic Party, Petitioner’s candidacy was governed by the provisions of W. Va. Code 3-5-7 and that Petitioner had failed to comply with its requirements, thus disqualifying him as a candidate for the office of county clerk. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 3-5-7 applies to any person who seeks to hold an office or political party position to be filled by primary or general election; and (2) the circuit court properly granted the petition for writ of quo warranto because Petitioner failed to comply with the requirements of the statute. View "Wells v. State ex rel. Miller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Petitioner was a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia and a candidate seeking re-election to the Court. Petitioner began his election campaign as a “traditional candidate” - a candidate financed by contributions from supporters - but subsequently decided to enter the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Public Campaign Financing Program (the Act) and became a “participating candidate” under the Act. The West Virginia State Elections Commission certified Petitioner’s campaign for public funding under the Act. Respondent, a traditional candidate seeking election to the Court, appealed the Commission’s decision. The circuit court ruled in favor of Respondent, concluding that the Commission’s certification of Petitioner was clearly erroneous and violated Petitioner’s constitutional rights to free speech and substantive due process. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court and reinstated the decision of the Commission, holding that the Commission correctly concluded that Petitioner satisfied all statutory requirements to be certified for public funding under the Act. View "Benjamin v. Walker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Petitioner was a candidate seeking election to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia and was a “participating candidate” under the west Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Public Campaign Financing Program. In his application to the West Virginia State Elections Commission to be certified to receive public financing, Petitioner timely filed his final report and all required substantive information but filed his sworn statement one day late. The Commission certified Petitioner’s campaign for public financing. Respondent, a non-participating candidate seeking election to the Court, challenged Petitioner’s certification. The circuit court concluded that the Commissioner’s certification of Petitioner for public financing of his candidacy under West Virginia Code 3-12-1 was not valid. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commission has discretion to certify a participating candidate for public financing notwithstanding the candidate’s failure to meet the time deadlines set forth in the West Virginia Code of State Rules where the candidate has substantially complied with all requirements set forth in the Act and the Rules and where there is no showing of prejudice. View "Wooten v. Walker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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The Judicial Investigation Commission (JIC) requested the Supreme Court to issue a writ of mandamus against the Putnam County Board of Ballot Commissioners (Board) to remove Troy Sexton from the May 2016 ballot as a candidate for the office of magistrate in Putnam County. The JIC based is request upon its determination that Sexton had been convicted of a "misdemeanor involving moral turpitude". The Supreme Court granted the requested writ of mandamus and directed the Board to remove Sexton as a magisterial candidate from the election ballot, holding that Sexton’s misdemeanor conviction of reporting a false emergency constituted a conviction of a “misdemeanor involving moral turpitude” such that he was not qualified to serve as a magistrate pursuant to the requirements for that office set forth in W. Va. Code 50-1-4. View "State ex rel. Judicial Investigation Comm’n v. Board of Ballot Comm’rs" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, chair of the state Democratic Executive Committee and the members of the state Democratic Executive Committee for the Ninth Senatorial District, requested the issuance of a writ of mandamus against Respondents, the Governor and members of the state Republic Executive Committee for the Ninth Senatorial District, seeking to compel the Governor to fill a vacancy in the West Virginia Senate from a list of three candidates to be selected by Petitioners. The Supreme Court issued a rule to show cause and ordered Respondents to show cause why a writ of mandamus should not be awarded as requested by Petitioners. After an oral hearing, the Supreme Court denied the requested writ, holding that the vacancy is to be filled from a list of three candidates to be selected by the Republic Executive Committee for the Ninth Senatorial District based upon the outgoing senator’s most recent affiliation with the Republican Party. View "State ex rel. Biafore v. Tomblin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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On August 5, 2014, the Mingo County Democratic Executive Committee nominated a candidate to fill a vacancy created by the former Family Court Judge for the Eighth Family Circuit. The Mingo County Commission was requested to place the candidate on the ballot for the general election scheduled for November 4, 2014. Seeking compliance with the state’s election laws, the Secretary of State ordered the Ballot Commissioners of Mingo County to remove from the 2014 general election ballot any and all references to an election to fill an unexpired term of judge for the Eighth Family Court Circuit. The Ballot Commissioners did not respond, and the Secretary of State sought extraordinary relief from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted the requested writ of mandamus, holding that the Ballot Commissioners lacked the authority to sua sponte place a candidate for a judicial office on the ballot. View "State ex rel. Tennant v. Ballot Comm’rs of Mingo County" on Justia Law

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Petitioner and his political party leader filed a post-election mandamus action seeking the removal of Anthony Veltri, who had been elected and sworn into office as a county commissioner, on the grounds that Veltri did not reside in the proper district, and accordingly, was not eligible for election. The circuit court granted summary judgment to Petitioner and issued a writ of mandamus removing Veltri from his post. The court then seated Petitioner in Veltri's stead as county commissioner. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the issuance of the writ of mandamus was improper, as mandamus was not a proper proceeding by which to challenge the election results, Petitioner was unable to show a clear legal right to the relief sought, and another adequate post-election remedy was available to Petitioner. View "Veltri v. Parker" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a candidate for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, invoked the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction seeking a writ of mandamus to compel Respondents, including the secretary of state and members of the state election commission, to comply with W. Va. Code 3-12-11(e) and approve the release of matching funds to his campaign. Petitioner, a participant in the Supreme Court Public Campaign Financing Pilot Program, argued that because he complied with the applicable requirements set forth in the Pilot Program, and because one of the privately finances candidates spent a sum sufficient to trigger the matching funds provisions, the election commission was statutorily required to disburse matching funds to his campaign. The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus requested by Petitioner, holding (1) the matching funds provisions set forth in the Pilot Program violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment; and (2) therefore, Petitioner failed to establish a clear legal right to the relief sought. View "State ex rel. Loughry v. Tennant" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Donna Boley filed a petition asking for a writ of mandamus directed to Respondents, the Secretary of State of West Virginia and Frank Deem. Petitioner was an incumbent state senator seeking re-election for the Third Senatorial District (District 3). Deem sought to challenge Petitioner for the Republican Party's 2012 nomination and was certified as eligible by the Secretary to have his name placed on the ballot. Petitioner filed the petition challenging Deem's eligibility to be a candidate for state senator against her, asserting that Deem did not met the residency requirements contained in the state Constitution and the Senate Redistricting Act of 2011. Deem conceded that a plain reading of the residency requirements made him ineligible to be a candidate for state senator in District 3 but argued that the residency requirements should be declared unconstitutional. The Supreme Court found that the residency requirements were constitutional and granted the requested writ, ordering the Secretary to withdraw her certification of Deem's candidacy for state senator in District 3 and commanding that Deem's name be removed from ballots to be used in the May 2012 Republican party primary election. View "State ex rel. Boley v. Tennant" on Justia Law

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At issue in these consolidated appeals was the redistricting legislation adopted by the Legislature in 2011. Petitioners, several individuals and groups, challenged the constitutionality of H.B. 201, which was redistricting legislation regarding the House of Delegates, and S.B. 1006, which was redistricting legislation regarding the Senate. The constitutional challenges were before the Supreme Court as petitions for writs of prohibition and mandamus. The Court denied the requested writs, holding that the redistricting plans for the House of Delegates and the Senate were securely within the realm of constitutional mandates, as (1) in regards to H.B. 201, the constitution did not prohibit splitting counties or a plan containing multi-member delegate districts, the delegate residency dispersal requirement served a valid purpose, and no unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering occurred in this matter; and (2) S.B. 1006 did not violate the equality in population provisions of the state Constitution, did not unconstitutionally divide certain election precincts and cross county boundary lines, and did not violate the compactness requirement of the state Constitution insofar as it established certain senatorial districts. View "State ex rel. Cooper v. Tennant" on Justia Law