House beginning consideration of measure changing Supreme Court elections

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates on Friday will begin consideration of a measure that would change how state Supreme Court justices are elected.

House Bill 2008, introduced Wednesday, would require at least one Supreme Court candidate to receive at least 40% of the vote in the nonpartisan contest. If that does not happen, the top two candidates will face off in a runoff election.

Justices will be elected on the state’s primary election day in May. If the 40% threshold is not met, the contest between the top two candidates will be held on the general election date in November.

Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan

Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, is the bill’s lead sponsor.

“The genesis of the bill is to try to improve public confidence that the end result of the election is someone that a good number of people have voted for and make sure that our choice for the Supreme Court of Appeals is someone that enjoys public support and is a legitimate representative of the people,” he said.

Cowles added it is “probably better government” to allow for a runoff in November.

“That’s a sizeable number,” he said of the 40% mark.

“If there’s three or four candidates and one of them gets a solid vote of 40-plus, I think that’s certainly good confidence from the voters that that’s their selection.”

The House Judiciary Committee approved the measure on Thursday. The committee amended the bill to include this year’s election.

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