Nonpartisan judicial elections now state law

By Chris Dickerson | Jun 9, 2015

CHARLESTON – The law requiring judicial elections to be nonpartisan is now in effect in West Virginia.

“After decades of promoting this much needed reform, I am pleased nonpartisan election of judicial officers is finally a reality in West Virginia,” House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said in a statement. “This is one of many steps we’ve taken to better ensure fairness within our state’s court system, and to bring us in line with the majority of states across the country.”

Specifically, the new law requires that judicial officers in West Virginia including Justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Circuit Court judges, Family Court judges and Magistrates be elected on a nonpartisan basis. Judicial officers will be required to run in a designated division.

“I am so pleased party labels will be removed from judicial elections,” lead sponsor Kayla Kessinger, R-Fayette, said. “Politics shouldn’t play a role in our family court system and deciding what is best for children and families.”

Judicial elections, like those of county school board members, will take place during the May primary elections. The first such election is set for May 16, 2016.

“This new law will allow the voters to evaluate judicial candidates based upon his or her qualifications and record without any partisan considerations,” Del. Bill Anderson, R-Wood, said.

Other sponsors were Del. John B. McCuskey (R-Kanawha), Del. Anna Border-Sheppard (R-Wood), Del. John Shott (R-Mercer), Del. Ruth Rowan (R-Hampshire), Del. Cindy Frich (R-Monongalia), Del. Steve Westfall (R-Jackson), Del. Patrick Lane (R-Kanawha), Del. Kelli Sobonya (R-Cabell) and Del. Larry Faircloth (R-Berkeley).

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