HUNTINGTON – U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers granted an emergency motion, ruling that 17 third-party candidates will remain on November’s general election ballot.
Chambers heard arguments Thursday regarding the issue after Darrell Castle and Naomi Spencer Daly filed a lawsuit earlier this week.
Castle and Daly’s lawsuit alleged that Secretary of State Natalie Tennant violated their constitutional rights when she informed them that due to the Erik Wells decision by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, they could no longer be on the general election ballot this November.
Along with their lawsuit, Castle and Daly filed a motion for an emergency ruling to temporarily restrict Tennant from removing them from the ballot.
Daly, a Cabell County woman running for the House of Delegates as a member of the Socialist Equality Party, and Castle, a man from Tennessee who is running as the Constitution Party’s presidential nominee, claimed they submitted nominating petitions containing a sufficient number of signatures, a certificate of announcement and filing fee to the Secretary of State before Aug. 1.
Each of the plaintiffs received notice on Aug. 25 that they were qualified for the general election ballot.
However, the day after the West Virginia Supreme Court released its opinion in Wells v. State ex rel. Miller, the candidates were notified by Tennant’s office that they were being removed from the general election ballot based on the Wells decision, according to the suit.
Daly and Castle claim the notification stated that the Wells decision meant that independent candidates must have filed a certificate of announcement no later than Jan. 30, in order to appear on the general election ballot in November, which none of them had done.
West Virginia’s ballot access scheme for independent candidates, as applied to the plaintiffs, violates rights guaranteed to the plaintiffs by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, according to the suit.
In August, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued an opinion, upholding the decision from Kanawha Circuit Court that Wells, a registered Democrat, was not permitted to appear on the ticket as an independent candidate because it would create voter confusion.
Daly and Castle are represented by Bryan Sells of the Law Office of Bryan Sells; and Anthony Majestro of Powell & Majestro PLLC.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 3:16-cv-08981