Charleston, W.Va. – When West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant delivered the certificates of special gubernatorial election results to the Legislature today, an unprecedented period of time came to an end. It began on June 28, 2010 when Senator Robert Byrd passed away.
Never before had the state been faced with such a wide reaching succession question. Never before had the state legislature convened to discuss a bill that would call for a single special Senate election. Never before had the voters of West Virginia gone to the polls five times in just 17 months. Never before had challenges of this kind faced a West Virginia Secretary of State.
The challenges came, and Secretary Tennant said Sunday her office and county clerks met them and exceeded expectations.
“It started last June, and it hasn’t stopped for us,” Secretary Tennant said. “These were uncharted waters for our state and we navigated them by doing everything the right way. We made sure the people of this state had the opportunity to go to the polls in fair elections to choose their leaders. We made it possible for deployed military and overseas voters to cast their ballot online. I’m very proud of the work the staff of the Secretary of State’s Office has done. It’s been an honor to be a part of West Virginia history.”
In a regular four year term, a Secretary of State would oversee four statewide elections. With the upcoming Presidential elections next year, Secretary Tennant will oversee a total of seven.
After Senator Byrd passed away, the State Legislature passed a law calling for a special U.S. Senate primary in August of 2010. Former Governor Joe Manchin won the special U.S. Senate election, and State Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin became acting governor. After two more special elections – a special primary and general – Tomblin became West Virginia’s 35th Governor on October 4.
Tomblin took the oath of office today at the State Capitol.