CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge has ruled 17 independent candidates must remain on West Virginia’s November general election ballot.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports (http://bit.ly/2dee1tV ) Darrell Castle, of Tennessee, and Naomi Spencer Daly, of Cabell County, filed suit Monday after receiving notice the previous Friday that they would be tossed off the ballot. Castle is the Constitution Party’s nominee for president and Spencer Daly is running for the House of Delegates as a member of the Socialist Equality Party.
The notices came after a state Supreme Court ruling that barred former state senator Erik Wells, a registered Democrat, from appearing on the ballot as an independent candidate for Kanawha County clerk.
“To suggest that this would create voter confusion is putting it mildly,” Justice Margaret Workman wrote for the majority in a 4-1 decision.
Wells is married to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, whose office then sent notices to other independent candidates who were not registered Democrats or Republicans.
“The notification stated that the Wells decision meant that independent candidates must have filed a certificate of announcement no later than January 30, 2016, in order to appear on the general election ballot in November,” according to the lawsuit.
The candidates argued Tennant could not impose a retroactive deadline. The West Virginia Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief Tuesday supporting their claim that Tennant’s interpretation of the state Supreme Court’s ruling was unconstitutional.
On Thursday, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers ruled in favor of 17 independent candidates remaining on the ballot.
Tennant issued an emailed statement saying she was delighted by Chambers ruling.
“I have always fully supported ballot access for independent candidates and respect the wishes of the groups of citizens that support them,” the statement reads.
“The court also acknowledged that the Secretary of State’s Office was compelled to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling when we removed six candidates from the ballot. With this ruling, the court has brought clarity in time for us to move forward and focus on providing a safe and efficient general election.”
Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.