§3-8-1. Provisions to regulate and control elections

Published: 2015

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WVC 3 - 8 - 1

§3-8-1. Provisions to regulate and control elections.

(a) The Legislature finds that:

(1) West Virginia's population is 1,808,344, ranking 37th

among the fifty states.

(2) State Senate districts have a population of approximately

one hundred six thousand three hundred seventy-three, and the

average Delegate district has a population of approximately

thirty-one thousand, one hundred seventy-eight. The size of these

districts is substantially smaller than the United States

Senatorial and Congressional Districts.

(3) When the relatively small size of the State's legislative

and other voting districts is combined with the economics and

typical uses of various forms of electioneering communication,

history shows that non-broadcast media is and will continue to be

a widely used means of making campaign related communications to

target relevant audiences. Consequently, non-broadcast

communications are prevalent during elections.

(4) Disclosure provisions are appropriate legislative weapons

against the reality or appearance of improper influence stemming

from the dependence of candidates on large campaign contributions,

and the ceilings imposed accordingly serve the basic governmental

interest in safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process

without directly impinging upon the rights of individual citizens

and candidates to engage in political debate and discussion.

(5) Disclosure of expenditures serve a substantial governmental interest in informing the electorate and preventing

the corruption of the political process.

(6) Disclosure by persons and entities that make expenditures

for communications that expressly advocate the election or defeat

of clearly identified candidates, or perform its functional

equivalent, is a reasonable and minimally restrictive method of

furthering First Amendment values by public exposure of the state

election system.

(7) Failing to regulate non-broadcast media messages would

permit those desiring to influence elections to avoid the

principles and policies that are embodied in existing state law.

(8) The regulation of the various types of non-broadcast media

in addition to broadcast media, is tailored to meet the

circumstances found in the State of West Virginia.

(9) Non-broadcast media such as newspapers, magazines or other

periodicals have proven to be effective means of election

communication in West Virginia. Broadcast, satellite and

non-broadcast media have all been used to influence election


(10) Certain non-broadcast communications, such as newspaper

inserts, can be more effective campaign methods than broadcast

media because such communications can be targeted to registered

voters or historical voters in the particular district. In

contrast, broadcasted messages reach all of the general public,

including person ineligible to vote in the district.

(11) Non-broadcast media communications in the final days of

a campaign can be particularly damaging to the public's confidence

in the election process because they reduce or make impossible an

effective response.

(12) Identifying those funding non-broadcast media campaigns

in the final days of a campaign may at least permit voters to

evaluate the credibility of the message.

(13) In West Virginia, contributions up to the amounts

specified in this article allow contributors to express their

opinions, level of support and their affiliations.

(14) In West Virginia, campaign expenditures by entities and

persons who are not candidates have been increasing. Public

confidence is eroded when substantial amounts of such money, the

source of which is hidden or disguised, is expended. This is

particularly true during the final days of a campaign.

(15) In West Virginia, contributions to political

organizations, defined in Section 527(e)(1) of the Internal Revenue

Code of 1986, substantially larger than the amounts permitted to be

received by a candidate's political committee have been recorded

and are considered by the legislature to be large contributions.

(16) Independent expenditures intended to influence

candidates' campaigns in the state are increasingly utilizing

non-broadcast media to support or defeat candidates.

(17) Identification of persons or entities funding political

advertisements assists in enforcement of the contribution and expenditure limitations established by this article and simply

informs voters of the actual identities of persons or entities

advocating the election or defeat of candidates.

(18) Identification of persons or entities funding political

advertisements allows voters to evaluate the credibility of the

message contained in the advertisement.

(19) Disclosure of the identity of persons or entities funding

political communications regarding candidates bolsters the right of

listeners to be fully informed.

(b) Political campaign contributions, receipts and

expenditures of money, advertising, influence and control of

employees, and other economic, political and social control factors

incident to primary, special and general elections shall be

regulated and controlled by the provisions of this article and

other applicable provisions of this chapter.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session

The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.