Secretary of State Mac Warner reminds all prospective independent and minor party candidates that the statutory deadline to qualify for and become placed on the 2020 General Election ballot is Monday, Aug. 3.
Candidates are encouraged to submit their signatures to the appropriate office for review as soon as possible. Upon receipt, election officials will review voters’ names and signatures, and confirm the validity of each based on the voter registration records. Early submission reduces the strain on county offices and provides candidates with more time to gather last-minute signatures if needed.
Although gathering signatures historically involved person-to-person interactions, many candidates have turned to technology to reduce the need for in-person contact during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some safe and legal practices for gathering signatures include exhibiting the nominating certificate(s) with required disclosures on a campaign website, social media page or via email, and include instructions for voters to (1) print the signature page, (2) sign in their own handwriting, and (3) return via email or mail to the candidate.
However, and importantly, the law does not permit voters to sign signature petitions electronically (see W. Va. Code § 3-5-23(c)). Therefore, voters must sign the petitions in “their own proper handwriting[.]”
For basic information regarding the requirements and process for independent or minor party ballot access, see W. Va. Code §§ 3-5-23, 24, refer to page 17 of the 2020 Running for Office Guide, and see the 2020 Petitions Signature Requirements chart.