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Senate votes to make prosecutor elections nonpartisan

Elections for county prosecutors will become a nonpartisan affair under a bill approved in the West Virginia Senate Wednesday.

The Senate approved Senate Bill 204 in a 30-4 vote Wednesday.

If the bill becomes law elections for county prosecutors will work similar to judicial elections. Prosecutors would be elected during the May primary election, and their political party wouldn’t be listed on the ballot.

The proposed prosecutor elections would be different from judicial elections in one way: in the event that a prosecuting attorney candidate fails to get a majority of the votes, the two candidates with the most votes would advance to a run-off election during the general election in a given year.

Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, proposed the run-off provision during the Senate Judiciary meeting on Feb. 13, saying he didn’t want to repeat a situation like the 2018 Supreme Court special election in which the people who were elected to the court each received less than the majority of the vote in a field of more than 20 candidates.

Justice Evan Jenkins was elected after receiving 36 percent of the votes cast in his division, and Justice Tim Armstead was elected after receiving 26 percent of the votes in his division.

During the Feb. 13 Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison, said the lack of a run-off for the Supreme Court election was “dangerous” given the weight and authority of the position.

In the House of Delegates, House Bill 2008 would establish a general election run-off in Supreme Court elections. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill on Jan. 9. It was referenced to the House Finance Committee, where it has been since Jan. 10.

Senate Bill 204 will advance to the House for consideration.

Reach Lacie Pierson at

lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow

@laciepierson on Twitter.

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