SENATE
HOUSE
JOINT
BILL STATUS
WV CODE
REPORTS
EDUCATIONAL
CONTACT
home
home

Introduced Version Senate Bill 108 History

   |  Email


WEST virginia legislature

2019 regular session

Introduced

Senate Bill 108

By Senators Plymale, Woelfel, Baldwin, and Clements

[Introduced January 9, 2019; Referred
to the Committee on the Judiciary
]

A BILL to amend and reenact §3-1-16 and §3-1-17 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; to amend and reenact §3-5-6a, §3-5-6b, §3-5-6c, §3-5-6d, and §3-5-7 of said code; to amend and reenact §3-10-3 of said code; to amend and reenact §50-1-1 of said code; to amend and reenact §51-1-1 of said code; to amend and reenact §51-2-1 of said code; and to amend and reenact §51-2A-5 of said code, all relating to changing the nonpartisan election of judicial offices to require a person elected during the primary election to receive a majority of votes cast for that office; providing that if no candidate receives a majority of votes cast then the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes are placed on the general election ballot where a winner is determined; applying these changes to the elections of Supreme Court Justices, Circuit Court Judges, Family Court Judges, and Magistrates; clarifying that the primary elections of these officials are not partisan; and adjusting the filling of vacancies in judicial office to ensure a full primary and general election cycle is available for election to an unexpired term so as to eliminate the need for any special election if a candidate does not receive a majority of votes.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:


Chapter 3. Elections.

Article 1. General Provisions and Definitions.

§3-1-16. Election of state officers.

(a) At the general election to be held in 1968, and every fourth year thereafter, there shall be elected a Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Attorney General and Commissioner of Agriculture. At the general election in 1968, and every second year thereafter, there shall be elected a member of the State Senate for each senatorial district, and a member or members of the House of Delegates of the state from each county or each delegate district.

(b) At the time of the primary election to be held in the year 2016, and every twelfth year thereafter, there shall be elected one justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, and at the time of the primary election to be held in 2020, and every twelfth year thereafter, two justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals, and at the time of the primary election to be held in 2024, and every twelfth year thereafter, two justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals. However, if no candidate receives a majority of votes cast for that office, then the two candidates receiving the highest numbers of votes shall be placed on the ballot in the general election that year and the candidate with the highest number of votes at the general election shall be declared the winner. Effective with the primary election held in the year 2016, the election of justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals shall be on a nonpartisan basis and by division as set forth more fully in §3-5-1 et seq. of this code.


§3-1-17. Election of circuit judges; county and district officers; magistrates.

(a) There shall be elected, at the time of the primary election to be held in 2016, and every eighth year thereafter, one judge of the circuit court of every judicial circuit entitled to one judge, and one judge for each numbered division of the judicial circuit in those judicial circuits entitled to two or more circuit judges; and at the time of the primary election to be held in 2016, and in every fourth year thereafter, the number of magistrates prescribed by law for the county. However, if no candidate receives a majority of votes cast for that office, then the two candidates receiving the highest numbers of votes shall be placed on the ballot in the general election that year and the candidate with the highest number of votes at the general election shall be declared the winner. Beginning with the election held in the year 2016, an election for the purpose of electing judges of the circuit court, or an election for the purpose of electing magistrates, shall be upon a nonpartisan ballot printed for the purpose.

(b) There shall be elected, at the general election to be held in 1992, and every fourth year thereafter, a sheriff, prosecuting attorney, surveyor of lands, and the number of assessors prescribed by law for the county; and at the general election to be held in 1990, and every second year thereafter, a commissioner of the county commission for each county; and at the general election to be held in 1992, and every sixth year thereafter, a clerk of the county commission and a clerk of the circuit court for each county.

(c) Effective with the primary election of 2016, all elections for judge of the circuit courts in the respective circuits and magistrates in each county will be elected on a nonpartisan basis and by division as set forth more fully in §3-5-1 et seq. of this code.


Article 5. Primary Elections and Nominating Procedures.

§3-5-6a. Election of justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

(a) An election for the purpose of electing a justice or justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals shall be held on the same date as the primary election, as provided by law, upon a nonpartisan ballot by division printed for this purpose. For election purposes, in each election at which shall be elected more than one justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the election shall be by numbered division corresponding to the number of justices being elected. Each justice shall be elected at large from the entire state.

(b) In each nonpartisan election by division for a justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the candidates for election in each numbered division shall be tallied separately, and the board of canvassers shall declare and certify the election of the eligible candidate receiving the highest numbers a majority of votes cast within a numbered division to fill any full terms. However, if no candidate receives a majority of votes cast for that office, then the two candidates receiving the highest numbers of votes shall be placed on the ballot in the general election that year and the candidate with the highest number of votes at the general election shall be declared the winner.

(c) In case of a tie vote under this section, §3-6-12 of this code controls in breaking the tie vote.


§3-5-6b. Election of circuit judges.

(a) An election for the purpose of electing a circuit court judge or judges shall be held on the same date as the primary election in their respective circuits, as provided by law, upon a nonpartisan ballot by division printed for this purpose.

(b) In each nonpartisan election by division for a circuit court judge, the candidates for election in each numbered division shall be tallied separately, and the board of canvassers shall declare and certify the election of the eligible candidate receiving the highest numbers a majority of votes cast within a numbered division to fill any full terms. However, if no candidate receives a majority of votes cast for that office, then the two candidates receiving the highest numbers of votes shall be placed on the ballot in the general election that year and the candidate with the highest number of votes at the general election shall be declared the winner.

(c) In case of a tie vote under this section, §3-6-12 of this code controls in breaking the tie vote.


§3-5-6c. Election of family court judges.

(a) An election for the purpose of electing a family court judge or judges shall be held on the same date as the primary election in their respective circuits, as provided by law, upon a nonpartisan ballot by division printed for this purpose.

(b) In each nonpartisan election by division for a family court judge, the candidates for election in each numbered division shall be tallied separately, and the board of canvassers shall declare and certify the election of the eligible candidate receiving the highest numbers a majority of votes cast within a numbered division to fill any full terms. However, if no candidate receives a majority of votes cast for that office, then the two candidates receiving the highest numbers of votes shall be placed on the ballot in the general election that year and the candidate with the highest number of votes at the general election shall be declared the winner.

(c) In case of a tie vote under this section, §3-6-12 of this code controls in breaking the tie vote.


§3-5-6d. Election of magistrates.

(a) An election for the purpose of electing a magistrate or magistrates by division shall be held on the same date as the primary election in their respective circuits, as provided by law, upon a nonpartisan ballot by division printed for this purpose.

(b) In each nonpartisan election by division for a magistrate, the candidates for election in each numbered division shall be tallied separately, and the board of canvassers shall declare and certify the election of the eligible candidate receiving the highest numbers a majority of votes cast within a numbered division to fill any full terms. However, if no candidate receives a majority of votes cast for that office, then the two candidates receiving the highest numbers of votes shall be placed on the ballot in the general election that year and the candidate with the highest number of votes at the general election shall be declared the winner.

(c) In case of a tie vote under this section, §3-6-12 of this code controls in breaking the tie vote.


§3-5-7. Filing certificates of announcements of candidacies; requirements; withdrawal of candidates when section applicable.


(a) Any person who is eligible and seeks to hold an office or political party position to be filled by election in any primary or general election held under the provisions of this chapter shall file a certificate of announcement declaring his or her candidacy for the nomination or election to the office.

(b) The certificate of announcement shall be filed as follows:

(1) Candidates for the House of Delegates, the State Senate, circuit judge, family court judge, and any other office or political position to be filled by the voters of more than one county shall file a certificate of announcement with the Secretary of State.

(2) Candidates for an office or political position to be filled by the voters of a single county or a subdivision of a county, except for candidates for the House of Delegates, State Senate, circuit judge or family court judge, shall file a certificate of announcement with the clerk of the county commission.

(3) Candidates for an office to be filled by the voters of a municipality shall file a certificate of announcement with the recorder or city clerk.

(c) The certificate of announcement shall be filed with the proper officer not earlier than the second Monday in January before the primary election day and not later than the last Saturday in January before the primary election day and must be received before midnight, eastern standard time, of that day or, if mailed, shall be postmarked by the United States Postal Service before that hour. This includes the offices of justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, circuit court judge, family court judge and magistrate, which are to be filled on a nonpartisan and division basis: at the primary election  Provided, That on the final day of a political filing period, the office of the Secretary of State shall be open from 9:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m.  The offices of the County Clerk in all counties of the state shall be open on that final day of a political filing period from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.

(d) The certificate of announcement shall be on a form prescribed by the Secretary of State on which the candidate shall make a sworn statement before a notary public or other officer authorized to administer oaths, containing the following information:

(1) The date of the election in which the candidate seeks to appear on the ballot;

(2) The name of the office sought; the district, if any; and the division, if any;

(3) The legal name of the candidate and the exact name the candidate desires to appear on the ballot, subject to limitations prescribed in §3-5-13 of this code;

(4) The county of residence and a statement that the candidate is a legally qualified voter of that county; and the magisterial district of residence for candidates elected from magisterial districts or under magisterial district limitations;

(5) The specific address designating the location at which the candidate resides at the time of filing, including number and street or rural route and box number and city, state, and zip code;

(6) For partisan elections, the name of the candidate’s political party and a statement that the candidate: (A) Is a member of and affiliated with that political party as evidenced by the candidate’s current registration as a voter affiliated with that party; and (B) has not been registered as a voter affiliated with any other political party for a period of sixty days before the date of filing the announcement;

(7) For candidates for delegate to national convention, the name of the presidential candidate to be listed on the ballot as the preference of the candidate on the first convention ballot; or a statement that the candidate prefers to remain “uncommitted”;

(8) A statement that the person filing the certificate of announcement is a candidate for the office in good faith;

(9) The words “subscribed and sworn to before me this ______ day of _____________, 20____” and a space for the signature of the officer giving the oath.

(e) The Secretary of State or the board of ballot commissioners, as the case may be, may refuse to certify the candidacy or may remove the certification of the candidacy upon receipt of a certified copy of the voter’s registration record of the candidate showing that the candidate was registered as a voter in a party other than the one named in the certificate of announcement during the sixty days immediately preceding the filing of the certificate: Provided, That unless a signed formal complaint of violation of this section and the certified copy of the voter’s registration record of the candidate are filed with the officer receiving that candidate’s certificate of announcement no later than ten days following the close of the filing period, the candidate may not be refused certification for this reason.

(f) The certificate of announcement shall be subscribed and sworn to by the candidate before some officer qualified to administer oaths, who shall certify the same. Any person who knowingly provides false information on the certificate is guilty of false swearing and shall be punished in accordance with §3-9-3 of this code.

(g) Any candidate for delegate to a national convention may change his or her statement of presidential preference by notifying the Secretary of State by letter received by the Secretary of State no later than the third Tuesday following the close of candidate filing. When the rules of the political party allow each presidential candidate to approve or reject candidates for delegate to convention who may appear on the ballot as committed to that presidential candidate, the presidential candidate or the candidate’s committee on his or her behalf may file a list of approved or rejected candidates for delegate and the Secretary of State shall list as “uncommitted” any candidate for delegate who is disapproved by the presidential candidate.

(h) A person may not be a candidate for more than one office or office division at any election: Provided, That a candidate for an office may also be a candidate for President of the United States, for membership on political party executive committees or for delegate to a political party national convention: Provided, however, That an unsuccessful candidate for a nonpartisan office in an election held concurrently with the primary election may be appointed under the provisions of §3-5-19 of this code to fill a vacancy on the general ballot.

(i) A candidate who files a certificate of announcement for more than one office or division and does not withdraw, as provided by §3-5-11 of this code, from all but one office prior to the close of the filing period may not be certified by the Secretary of State or placed on the ballot for any office by the board of ballot commissioners.

Article 10. Filling Vacancies.

§3-10-3. Vacancies in offices of state officials, justices, judges, and magistrates.


(a) Any vacancy occurring in the offices of Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture, or in any office created or made elective to be filled by the voters of the entire state, is filled by the Governor of the state by appointment and subsequent election to fill the remainder of the term, if required by §3-10-1 of this code. The Governor shall make the appointment from a list of three legally qualified persons submitted by the party executive committee of the same political party with which the person holding the office immediately preceding the vacancy was affiliated at the time the vacancy occurred. The list of qualified persons to fill the vacancy shall be submitted to the Governor within 15 days after the vacancy occurs, and the Governor shall duly make his or her appointment to fill the vacancy from the list of legally qualified persons within five days after the list is received. If the list is not submitted to the Governor within the 15-day period, the Governor shall appoint, within five days thereafter, a legally qualified person of the same political party with which the person holding the office immediately preceding the vacancy was affiliated at the time the vacancy occurred: Provided, That the provisions of this subsection do not apply to §3-10-3(b), §3-10-3(c), §3-10-3(d), and §3-10-3(e) of this code.

(b) Any vacancy occurring in the offices of Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, judge of a circuit court, or judge of a family court is filled by the Governor of the state by appointment and, if the unexpired term be for a period of more than two years, by a subsequent election to fill the remainder of the term, as required by §3-10-3(d) of this code. If an election is required under §3-10-3(d) of this code, the Governor, circuit court, or the chief judge thereof in vacation, is responsible for the proper proclamation by order and notice required by §3-10-1 of this code.

(c) Any vacancy in the office of magistrate is appointed according to the provisions of §50-1-6 of this code, and, if the unexpired term be for a period of more than two years, by a subsequent election to fill the remainder of the term, as required by §3-10-3(d) of this code.

(d) (1) When the vacancy in the office of Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, judge of the circuit court, judge of a family court, or magistrate occurs after the 84th day before a general primary election, and the affected term of office ends on December 31 following the succeeding general election two years later, the person appointed to fill the vacancy shall continue in office until the completion of the term.

(2) When the vacancy occurs before the close of the candidate filing period for the primary election, and if the unexpired term be for a period of greater than two years, the vacancy shall be filled by election in the nonpartisan judicial election held concurrently with the primary election and the appointment shall continue until a successor is elected and certified. However, if no candidate receives a majority of votes cast for that office in the primary election, then the two candidates receiving the highest numbers of votes shall be placed on the ballot in the general election that year and the candidate with the highest number of votes at the general election shall be declared the winner.

(3) When the vacancy occurs after the close of candidate filing for the primary election and not later than 84 days before the general primary election, and if the unexpired term be for a period of greater than two years, the vacancy shall be filled by election in a nonpartisan judicial election held concurrently with the general primary election, and the appointment shall continue until a successor is elected and certified. However, if no candidate receives a majority of votes cast for that office, then the two candidates receiving the highest numbers of votes shall be placed on the ballot in the general election that year and the candidate with the highest number of votes at the general election shall be declared the winner.

(e) When an election to fill a vacancy is required to be held at the general primary election, according to the provisions of §3-10-3(d) of this code, a special candidate filing period shall be established. Candidates seeking election to any unexpired term for Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, judge of a circuit court, judge of the family court, or magistrate shall file a certificate of announcement and pay the filing fee no earlier than the first Monday in August and no later than 77 days before the general primary election.

Chapter 50. Magistrate Courts.

Article 1. Courts and Officers.


§50-1-1. Magistrate court created.

There is hereby created in each county of this state a magistrate court with such numbers of magistrates for each court as are hereafter provided. There shall be elected by the voters of each county, at the general election to be held in 1976, and in every fourth year thereafter, such number of magistrates as is provided in §50-1-2 of this code. The filing fee for the office of magistrate shall be one percent of the annual salary. The term of magistrates shall be for four years and shall begin on January 1, of the year following the year of election.

Effective with the primary election of 2016, all elections for magistrates will be on a nonpartisan basis by division. Beginning in 2016, there will no longer be partisan primary elections held for magistrates and all elections for magistrates are to be held in the nonpartisan judicial election as set forth in §3-5-1 et seq. of this code. All indications of party identification on election ballots for magistrate shall be omitted.

Chapter 51. Courts and Their Officers.

Article 1. Supreme Court of Appeals.


§51-1-1. Justices.

The Supreme Court of Appeals shall consist of five justices, elected and qualified according to the Constitution and the laws of this state, any three of whom shall constitute a quorum. Effective with the primary election of 2016, all elections for justices will be on a nonpartisan basis by division. Beginning in 2016, there will no longer be partisan primary elections held for the office of justice and all elections for justice are to be held in the nonpartisan judicial election as set forth in §3-5-1 et seq. of this code. All indications of party identification on election ballots for that office shall be omitted.

Article 2. Circuit Courts; Circuit Judges.


§51-2-1. Judicial circuits; terms of office; legislative findings and declarations; elections; terms of court.


(a) The state shall be divided into the following judicial circuits with the following number of judges:

(1) The counties of Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio shall constitute the first circuit and shall have four judges;

(2) The counties of Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel shall constitute the second circuit and shall have two judges;

(3) The counties of Doddridge, Pleasants, and Ritchie shall constitute the third circuit and shall have one judge;

(4) The counties of Wood and Wirt shall constitute the fourth circuit and shall have three judges;

(5) The counties of Calhoun, Jackson, Mason, and Roane shall constitute the fifth circuit and shall have two judges: Provided, That effective January 1, 2017, said circuit court shall have three judges; said additional circuit judge to be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2016 and every eighth year thereafter;

(6) The county of Cabell shall constitute the sixth circuit and shall have four judges;

(7) The county of Logan shall constitute the seventh circuit and shall have two judges;

(8) The county of McDowell shall constitute the eighth circuit and shall have two judges;

(9) The county of Mercer shall constitute the ninth circuit and shall have three judges;

(10) The county of Raleigh shall constitute the tenth circuit and shall have three judges: Provided, That effective January 1, 2017, said circuit court shall have four judges; said additional circuit judge to be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2016 and every eighth year thereafter;

(11) The counties of Greenbrier and Pocahontas shall constitute the eleventh circuit and shall have two judges;

(12) The county of Fayette shall constitute the twelfth circuit and shall have two judges;

(13) The county of Kanawha shall constitute the thirteenth circuit and shall have seven judges;

(14) The counties of Braxton, Clay, Gilmer, and Webster shall constitute the fourteenth circuit and shall have two judges;

(15) The county of Harrison shall constitute the fifteenth circuit and shall have three judges;

(16) The county of Marion shall constitute the sixteenth circuit and shall have two judges;

(17) The county of Monongalia shall constitute the seventeenth circuit and shall have three judges;

(18) The county of Preston shall constitute the eighteenth circuit and shall have one judge;

(19) The counties of Barbour and Taylor shall constitute the nineteenth circuit and shall have one judge: Provided, That effective January 1, 2019, said circuit court shall have two judges; said additional circuit judge to be appointed by the Governor and subsequently elected at the next scheduled primary election(s) to be held in 2020 for the unexpired term pursuant to §3-10-3 of this code: Provided, however, That said additional circuit judge shall thereafter be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024 and every eighth year thereafter;

(20) The county of Randolph shall constitute the twentieth circuit and shall have one judge;

(21) The counties of Grant, Mineral, and Tucker shall constitute the twenty-first circuit and shall have two judges;

(22) The counties of Hampshire, Hardy, and Pendleton shall constitute the twenty-second circuit and shall have two judges;

(23) The counties of Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan shall constitute the twenty-third circuit and shall have five judges: Provided, That effective January 1, 2017, said circuit court shall have six judges; said additional circuit judge to be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2016 and every eighth year thereafter;

(24) The county of Wayne shall constitute the twenty-fourth circuit and shall have two judges;

(25) The counties of Lincoln and Boone shall constitute the twenty-fifth circuit and shall have two judges;

(26) The counties of Lewis and Upshur shall constitute the twenty-sixth circuit and shall have one judge: Provided, That effective January 1, 2017, said circuit court shall have two judges; said additional circuit judge to be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2016 and every eighth year thereafter;

(27) The county of Wyoming shall constitute the twenty-seventh circuit and shall have one judge;

(28) The county of Nicholas shall constitute the twenty-eighth circuit and shall have one judge;

(29) The county of Putnam shall constitute the twenty-ninth circuit and shall have two judges;

(30) The county of Mingo shall constitute the thirtieth circuit and shall have one judge; and

(31) The counties of Monroe and Summers shall constitute the thirty-first circuit and shall have one judge.

(b) The Kanawha County circuit court shall be a court of concurrent jurisdiction with each single judge circuit where the sitting judge in the single judge circuit is unavailable by reason of sickness, vacation, or other reason.

(c) Any judge in office on the effective date of the reenactment of this section shall continue as a judge of the circuit as constituted under prior enactments of this section, unless sooner removed or retired as provided by law, until December 31, 2016.

(d) The term of office of all circuit court judges shall be for eight years. The term of office for all circuit court judges elected during an election conducted in the year 2016 shall commence on January 1, 2017, and end on December 31, 2024.

(e) For election purposes, in every judicial circuit having two or more judges there shall be numbered divisions corresponding to the number of circuit judges in each circuit. Each judge shall be elected at large from the entire circuit. In each numbered division of a judicial circuit, the candidates for nomination or election shall be voted upon, and the votes cast for the candidates in each division shall be tallied separately from the votes cast for candidates in other numbered divisions within the circuit. The candidate receiving the highest number of the votes cast within a numbered division shall be nominated or elected, as the case may be.

(f) Judges serving a judicial circuit comprised of four or more counties with two or more judges shall not be residents of the same county.

(g) The Supreme Court of Appeals shall, by rule, establish the terms of court of circuit judges.

Article 2A. Family COurts.


§51-2A-5. Term of office of family court judge; initial appointment; elections.

(a) Beginning with the election to be conducted in the year 2016, family court judges shall be elected on a nonpartisan basis. In family court circuits having two or more family court judges there shall be, for election purposes, numbered divisions corresponding to the number of family court judges in each area. Each family court judge shall be elected at large by the entire family court circuit. In each numbered division of a family court circuit, the candidates for nomination or election shall be voted upon and the votes cast for the candidates in each division shall be tallied separately from the votes cast for candidates in other numbered divisions within the family court circuit. The candidate or candidates receiving the highest number of the votes cast within a numbered division shall be nominated or elected, as the case may be. Effective with the primary election of 2016, all elections for family court judges in the respective circuits will be on a nonpartisan basis by division. Beginning in 2016, there will no longer be partisan primary elections held for family court judges and all elections for family court judges are to be held in the nonpartisan judicial election as set forth in §3-5-1 et seq. of this code. All indications of party identification on election ballots for family court judge shall be omitted.

(b) The term of office for all family court judges elected in 2002 shall be for six years, commencing on January 1, 2003, and ending on December 31, 2008. Subsequent terms of office for family court judges elected thereafter shall be for eight years.


 

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to ensure that a candidate elected to a judicial office receives a majority of the votes cast for that office during the nonpartisan primary or the top two vote getters move on to a nonpartisan general election.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

This Web site is maintained by the West Virginia Legislature's Office of Reference & Information.  |  Terms of Use  |   Web Administrator   |   © 2019 West Virginia Legislature ***


X

Print On Demand

Name:
Email:
Phone:

Print