CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says her office is doing as much as they can to inform West Virginia voters about changes to come in the 2016 election.
For the first time, West Virginia voters will choose their judges during next May’s primary election without any indications of political party affiliations on the ballots.
“With the education that we’ll be putting out is that it will be toward the end of the ballot,” said Tennant. “Folks are used to seeing the Supreme Court as a statewide race near the top of the ballot, but it will be at the end.”
The state law allowing for nonpartisan judicial elections officially took effect in June. The change will apply to elections, by division, for the state Supreme Court along with circuit court, family court and magistrate court.
Tennant said the ballot will be slightly longer this year including every race except for U.S. Senate in West Virginia.
“This is going to be a huge ballot,” she sad. “So from (U.S.) President to Board of Education.”
Judicial candidates will be placed on the back end of the ballot to avoid confusion.
“That’s when boards of education members are elected during a primary election. You already are having separate, so that’s part of cost saving measures that you’re going to have a Republican, Democrat, libertarian and so all of those would be similar and then you have the non-partisan at the end,” Tennant said.
Because the judicial candidates will run as non-partisan candidates, Tennant said that doesn’t change the way they run their campaign. She said they are separate from other candidates, though.
“They can’t go and ask (for) money, where a candidate for House of Delegates, Senate, Secretary of State or Treasurer can go and ask someone ‘would you please contribute to my campaign?’ A judicial candidate cannot do that,” she said.
The Secretary of State’s website will soon be providing information on the upcoming election along with a description of the changes.
West Virginia’s primary election will be held on May 10, 2016.