There continues to be some questions about the ballot for this upcoming general election and the race for the unexpired term in the United States Senate.
I took a common sense approach to this election and this ballot. There is no question that the state legislature made the United States Senate race a separate election. The fact that it is a separate election is not uncommon when it comes to unexpired terms for offices.
It is also not uncommon for special elections for unexpired terms to be on the regular general election ballot. In fact there is precedent that shows it has always been done that way.
In setting up this ballot, I followed West Virginia State Code and legal precedent. I also based my decision on an attempt to prevent voter confusion and to save at least $1 million in state money.
Some have said the law passed in the special session calls for a separate election. It does. But did lawmakers truly intend for there to be two separate sets of poll books that voters would have to sign both times? Two separate sets of voting machines for each precinct causing voters to have to move to a separate machine? Two sets of software memory devices that would have to be substituted when the voter had finished voting for one ballot? Two sets of counting boards? Two sets of early voting? Two sets of absentee voting requests and ballot applications?
The list goes on and on and on and leads to voter confusion. At the same time the price tag goes up and up and up. I did not want our state or counties to have to bear that cost.
That is why I took the common sense approach and followed the law and precedent and kept them together on the same ballot - that same one ballot experience that voters have had for years.
In fact, where cities have their elections at the same time as a county the municipal election is on the same ballot using the same straight party ticket option.
As you can see, it is not as easy as printing up another ballot. Much thought, planning, and debate took place to follow the law, save the state money, and provide voters with an open, honest, and fair election.
Natalie E. Tennant, West Virginia Secretary of State