EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSMISTAKE RAISES CONCERNS
from Eyewitness News Online
Secretary of State's Mistake Raises Concerns About Proposed Constitutional Amendment
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Sep. 20, 2012 6:11 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A mistake by West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant has raised concerns about the future of a proposed constitutional amendment. Supporters of the measure are worried Tennant’s error could get the courts involved.
Despite clear instructions from the constitution, the secretary of state missed a deadline informing voters of a proposed constitutional amendment on the November general election ballot.
“There is no excuse for missing the deadline for the publication in the newspaper,” Tennant said.
Tennant failed to publish the notice as required 90 days before the election. The amendment would end term limits for West Virginia’s sheriffs. The state sheriffs’ association has already spent thousands of dollars campaigning for the measure.
Rudi Raynes-Kidder, executive director of the West Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, said, “We thought our worries would be over Nov. 6. And if it passed, great. If it didn’t, OK. But now our worries are, if it does pass, will it be legitimate or will it be challenged?”
Raynes-Kidder said the cloud of a possible court challenges makes selling the amendment more complicated.
“It’s disheartening. It was disheartening for all of the sheriffs. We understand that mistakes are made. But at the same time, you work so hard, you hate to see any of that hard work go down the drain,” Raynes-Kidder said.
Tennant said that since the beginning of summer “we have had a campaign awareness program that we have put together for the constitutional amendment with the state Election Commission, where we’ve handed out cards at events all throughout the state. We have a webpage dedicated to providing information about the constitutional amendment, and it will be on the ballot for voters to vote on.”
A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office said there are four previous state Supreme Court rulings concerning similar mistakes that kept the constitutional amendments on the ballot and did not result in the vote being thrown out.
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