Ashton Marra Published

Delegate and Guardsman proposes law to vote while on active duty


As an officer in the Air National Guard, Boone County Republican Delegate Joshua Nelson is headed to his second mandatory service training in two years. In a press conference, Nelson announced new legislation he will introduce allowing military members like himself to participate in legislative votes while away for training or on active duty.

Nelson’s “Warrior/Legislator Act” would allow legislators who are members of the military to vote by electronic teleconferencing, either using new video technology like FaceTime or Skype or by telephone.

According to the bill, members of the Armed Forces or National Guard would be allowed to participate in both the proceedings of his or her chamber and vote on any issue to come before the body.

Nelson said he hopes enacting this type of legislation will encourage more members of the military to run for state office without having to worry about missing their legislative duties when called to serve, as he had to during the 2013 legislative session.

“I think you’re going to see more and more members of the military step forward to pursue this role and I do believe that we need to make it easier for them to be legislators,” Nelson said Thursday.

“Employers do this. They allow for members to be away to serve their country and I believe it is important that we as a legislature do the same and that they are still able to represent their districts properly.”

Nelson said the idea, however, is not completely new for West Virginia. While on active duty in Afghanistan, Kanawha County Senator Eric Wells voted for Senate President Jeff Kessler after Earl Ray Tomblin was elected governor.