West Virginia legislature passes major ballot access reform

For Immediate Release Monday, April 13, 2009

Bill cuts number of required signatures in half

CHARLESTON, W.V. — With less than an hour to its midnight deadline, the West Virginia General Assembly passed legislation April 11 reducing the number of valid signatures needed on a candidate’s ballot access petition by half. The bill now awaits the signature of Gov. Joe Manchin.

‘Libertarians thank Del. Fleischauer and everyone who supported this bill for making elections much fairer to West Virginia,’ said William Redpath, Libertarian National Committee Chair. Redpath, West Virginia Libertarian Party Chair Matt Harris and other Libertarian Party members made several trips to the State Capitol to meet with legislators to lobby for passage.

HB 2981, sponsored by Del. Barbara Evans Fleischauer (D-Monongalia), reduces the number of valid signatures a third party candidate must collect on a ballot access petition from two percent of the total vote for that office in the previous election to just one percent.

The ‘one percent’ rule was West Virginia law from 1932 to 1999, when it was doubled. Since the ‘two percent rule’ was adopted in 1999, only one third party succeeded in getting its gubernatorial candidate on the ballot through the petitioning process.

According to Ballot Access News Editor Richard Winger, if the bill is signed into law the only states with third party ballot access petition signature requirements above two percent of last vote cast in a midterm year will be North Carolina and Oklahoma.