July 13, 2010 •
Legislature May Change the Election Code in Special Session This Month
Attorney General Darrell McGraw issued a statement suggesting a special primary election be held in November to begin the process of filling U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat despite the fact current law does not allow for it. Byrd, who served in the Senate for more than 50 years, passed away on June 28, 2010. The initial ruling from Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says the election may not be held until November, 2012 because the filing deadline to be a candidate has passed. McGraw says Tennant’s ruling does not give enough weight to the Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution, which provides for popular election of Senators and only temporary appointments. Under McGraw’s plan, the legislature would actually change the state election code to allow for an election this year under these circumstances. Governor Joe Manchin has indicated he will speak with legislative leadership about changing the election code at the special session scheduled to convene on July 19, 2010.
July 6, 2010 •
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed House Bill 292.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed House Bill 292, a measure which will switch the state’s congressional elections to an open primary system, effective for the 2012 congressional elections.
Instead of the currently utilized three-tiered election cycle, wherein there is a party primary, followed by a party runoff, and culminating with the general election, HB 292 now advances the candidates with the top two vote totals from the primary to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Jindal was under pressure from both political parties to not sign the bill into law, but he noted that the measure will potentially save the state more than $13 million during each congressional election cycle.
July 1, 2010 •
There will be no special election this year in West Virginia to fill the seat of the late Sen. Byrd.
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant has announced a special election will not be held this year to fill the seat of Senator Robert Byrd, who passed away on June 28, 2010. Under West Virginia law, Governor Joe Manchin will appoint someone to serve until a replacement is elected at the next possible election. Senator Byrd’s replacement cannot be elected in the November, 2010 election, however, because the filing period for candidates has long passed. This means there will be two elections for the same Senate seat in November 2012. One will be a special election for the remaining five weeks of Byrd’s term, and the other will be for a full six-year term since Byrd was due to stand for re-election in 2012 regardless.
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