EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSELECTION CONTROVERSY
from Eyewitness News Online
How An Inmate Ends Up On Ballot In West Virginia
Reported by: Kristin Keeling
Videographer: Brad Rice
Web Producer: Kristin Keeling
Reported: May. 9, 2012 7:04 PM EDT
Updated: May. 11, 2012 7:39 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
While it is against the constitution for a felon to hold office, there is really no practical way for state leaders to police the process of applying to get on the ballot.
Now, many West Virginians are wildly wondering how a federal inmate got on the ballot to begin with.
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says the process is simple.
"I only determine under the instances and state code gives me in the Certificate of Announcement if he's met all of these requirements," explained Tennant.
Tennant says Keith Judd only had to fill out the proper paperwork for the seat which he did. He even paid the $2,500 filing fee from prison.
The State Constitution says you can't run if you're currently serving time for a felony in prison or on parole. But Tennant says it isn't her responsibility to follow up on that.
"I don't have the authority to investigate him and determine whether or not he is eligible. I have to follow the law and what is on this piece of Certificate of Announcement," said Tennant.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo says he tried to clarify the law so felons couldn't hold public office. But that legislation never made it to the House. He says an inmate getting 40% of the vote is embarrassing.
"I don't think our law contemplates allowing someone to serve in prison for a felony and serve in public office," he said. "It's a black eye on West Virginia."
Judd filed in January and Tennant says voters could have contested his filing, but didn't.
"Sometimes logic can't be applied but the law needs to be applied. And that's what we've done here," explained Tennant.
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