Ashton Marra Published

W.Va. Supreme Court Rules Democrat Cannot Appear on Local Ballot as Independent


The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision preventing a former Democratic state Senator from running for local office as an independent. 

The justices released the order Monday upholding an August Kanawha County Circuit Court decision.

The lower court ruled former Democratic state Senator Erik Wells could not appear on November’s ballot as an independent. Wells collected the more than 1,000 signatures this summer to have his name included as a candidate for Kanawha County Clerk, but as an independent rather than a Democrat. Wells did not change his party registration before attempting to run for the office.

During oral arguments before the Supreme Court last week, Wells’ attorney said the case was about ballot access and allowing the voters who signed his petition to vote for the candidate of their choosing.

A Kanawha County prosecutor argued the Democrat was camouflaging himself as an independent to confuse voters.

A full opinion from the court will follow, but the order Monday means Wells will not be allowed to appear on the ballot. Election Day is November 8.