Will West Virginia Extend Public Financing to Trial Court Elections?

West_Virginia_quarter,_reverse_side,_2005A bill filed in West Virginia’s House would create the first-in-the-nation public financing program for judicial elections at the trial level, according to Gavel to Gavel, a publication of the National Center for State Courts.

Sen. Mike Romano of Harrison County said recently, according to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, “The time has come to look at public financing for our judges. It’s worked well in our Supreme Court and it does take some of the influence of big money out of the most important office in our state.” West Virginia has a public financing program for state Supreme Court elections.

Gavel to Gavel also reports that the state House gave final approval to legislation to shift from partisan to nonpartisan judicial elections at every level of state courts. The measure goes to the governor for his signature.

The measure would set judicial elections for May. According to the Charleston Gazette, Senate Judiciary Chairman  Charles Trump explained, “Having it in May puts the judges out of the partisan tumult that happens between May and November.” He added,  “It should also reduce the influence of money in the process, because it’s a shorter campaign period.”