Charleston — Kanawha County Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers has ruled that Harry Lee Forbes, on the ballot as an Independent in the 10th District state senate race, lives in Summers County where sitting state Senator Jack David Woodrum lives, making him ineligible.
State law prohibits senators in a multi-county district being from the same county. Forbes was not a candidate in the May Primary Election. Woodrum is not up for reelection this year and will continue in office.
The legal challenge was filed by civil rights attorney John Bryan on behalf of Greenbrier County GOP Chair Ben Anderson.
“We feel like this was a good solution to the problem and we’re thankful that this was caught when it was before early voting started,”BEN ANDERSON, GREENBRIER GOP CHAIR
Akers ruled and the Secretary of State’s Office agreed Wednesday to instruct clerks in the 10th District counties to reprogram their voting machines to remove Forbes’ name. Nicholas County has paper ballots and a sticker will be used to alert voters. Those who have already received absentee ballots in the mail will be sent an application to request a new ballot if the voter desires a ballot without the ineligible candidate. The application will have to be filled out and returned.
The Secretary of State’s Office informed the state Election Commission of the developments in a special meeting late Wednesday afternoon. Anderson said he learned of the decision at the same time.
Forbes told MetroNews he’s not disappointed but is looking forward to 2024.
“We still have a great opportunity. I’m going to look toward 2024 when Mr. Woodrum comes back up for reelection,” Forbes said.
The 10th District race now has three candidates including incumbent Democrat Stephen Baldwin, Republican nominee Vince Deeds and Aaron Ransom, also an Independent.
Anderson resigned as state GOP treasurer earlier this year to manage Deeds’ campaign.
The 10th District covers Greenbrier, Summers, Monroe, Nicholas and part of Fayette counties.