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Election Law @ Moritz Home Page

Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz

2008 Key Questions for Key States

West Virginia

The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for West Virginia can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Elected individual (R)

Chief election authority: Secretary of State. § 3-1A-6.

Method of selection: Elected. Const. Art. 7, § 2.

Current officer: Betty Ireland (R). Betty Ireland not running for re-election or for another position, Campaigns & Elections, September 1, 2007. (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

D heavy/elected

Method of selection: Election. Const. Art. 8, § 2.

Justices: Robin Jean Davis (D), Larry V. Starcher (D), Elliott E. Maynard (D), Joseph P. Albright (D), Brent D. Benjamin (R) (Last updated 12/26/07)


Voter Registration

EL@M did not research this topic for West Virginia


EL@M did not research this topic for West Virginia

Provisional Ballots

EL@M did not research this topic for West Virginia

Early and Absentee Voting

EL@M did not research this topic for West Virginia

Voting Technology

EL@M did not research this topic for West Virginia

Polling Place Operations

Polling hours extension

Extensions probably not permitted

"[T]he polls shall be opened in each precinct on the day of such election at six-thirty o'clock in the forenoon and be closed at seven-thirty o'clock in the evening." W Va Code  3-1-31. The polling hours defined by statute are mandatory and may not be extended. Terry v. Sencindiver, 153 W.Va. 651, 651 (W.Va., 1969); Brooks v. Crum, 158 W.Va. 882, 886 (W.Va., 1975). Votes cast after the regular polling hours are illegal and should not count.

"The election commissioner shall permit those electors to vote who are present at the polling place prior to the hour specified for the closing of the polls..." W Va Code 3-1-32.

Polling place closing times - local times

7:30 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

7:30 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

EL@M did not research this topic for West Virginia

Emergency Preparedness

What if touchscreens break down?

Wait for repair or substitution

Where an electronic vote machine breaks down during an election (“becomes in a state of disrepair so that it cannot be operated in a manner that will comply with the provisions of this article”), the election commissioners will use a reserve machine.  W.Va. Code. 3-4A-18. 

Post-Election Processes

Election Contest Scenario #1: Unverified Ballots


West Virginia law requires voters to provide their signatures before voting. § 3-1-34. However, no information was found indicating whether failure to follow this requirement invalidates the resulting ballots. Unverified ballots are generally commingled with unproblematic ballots. Assuming that the unverified ballots are commingled and not eligible to be counted, state Supreme Court precedent indicates the results of the affected precincts should be rejected. Terry v. Sencindiver, 153 W.Va. 651, 659 (W.Va. 1969).  

Election Contest Scenario #2: Provisional Ballots with Technical Mistakes

Errors will disqualify ballots where they make it impossible to determine registration and eligibility

In deciding whether to count provisional ballots, officials will “disregard technical errors, omissions or oversights if it can reasonably be ascertained that the challenged voter was entitled to vote.” § 3-1-41. While no court has interpreted this language in the context of provisional ballots, it certainly suggests that these ballots should not be invalidated solely because of small voter errors that do not prevent verification against registration records.

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

No Presidential election contest permitted

West Virginia law explicitly authorizes election contests for many types of offices, but the office of President is not among them. § 3-7-1. This probably means that election contests for Presidential general and primary elections are not permitted. State ex rel. Daugherty v. Lincoln County Court, 31 S.E.2d 321, 324 (W.Va., 1944).     

Who Performs Presidential recounts?


County commissioners conduct Presidential recounts. 3-6-9; WV ADC s 153-20-2. County commissioners are elected. Const. Art. 9, s 10. There are no constraints on their partisan makeup. However, the commissioners only supervise the recount. The process of physically conducting the recount is handled by two-person teams with representation from both parties. WV ADC s 153-20-6. Candidates or their representatives may observe the recount. WV ADC s 153-20-6.