LOGAN, W.Va. — The final race remaining in limbo from Logan County’s May 10 primary election has been decided — Joshua Butcher will join Judge Eric O’Briant on West Virginia’s Seventh Judicial Circuit.
The decision from the West Virginia Supreme Court follows months of legal battles between Butcher and Judge Douglas Witten.
The May 10 election ended with Witten trailing Butcher by 59 votes.
Witten requested a recoun of the vote; however, following the recount, the vote totals for the race did not change.
An official notice of election contest was filed by Witten with the clerk of the House of Delegates June 6.
Witten based his election contest on a series of alleged violations of election law including a breach of electioneering laws and other irregularities like inconsistencies between the number of votes cast and the number of signatures in the poll books.
The election contest was heard by a tribunal (with Witten, Butcher and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin each choosing a judge) in Logan County Circuit Court August 23.
The tribunal issued their decision October 17 that Butcher had won the election contest.
Witten filed an appeal of the decision with the West Virginia Supreme Court November 3.
Butcher was represented by former Williamson High School graduate Ryan Donovan, who is now an attorney in Charleston.
The supreme court issued their decision affirming the ruling made by the three person panel November 30.
Citing precedent, the court’s filing notes, “A mere violation of West Virginia code…is insufficient to set aside an election and, in effect, disenfranchise the voters of a county. The sanctity of the ballot, which is the keystone of our democracy must be preserved.”
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]