HUNTINGTON, West Virginia – Sept. 20, 2016 – On Monday, September 19, Naomi Spencer, the Socialist Equality Party’s candidate for House of Delegates in District 16 filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Huntington Division, against Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

The suit, filed jointly with Constitution Party presidential candidate Darrell Castle, alleges that the decision of the Secretary of State to remove independent candidates from the ballot after they were certified for candidacy violates the constitutional rights of Spencer and other candidates on two grounds.

First, the action imposes a January filing deadline on independent candidates, and second, the decision applies it retroactively onto those like Spencer who have already met the published requirements for independent candidates and had their candidacies approved by the Secretary of State. The lawsuit argues, “Both the deadline and its retroactive application are patently unconstitutional.”

The Secretary of State’s action follows last week’s ruling by the state Supreme Court of Appeals, which barred Erik Wells from running as an independent candidate in Kanawha County because he was still registered as a Democrat. The court further ruled that Wells was disqualified because he did not file a “certificate of announcement” of his candidacy by January 30. This requirement, relevant to candidates contesting primary elections for the major parties, is now being used to strip independent candidates like Spencer of their ballot status across the state.

Spencer released a statement declaring that the decision “is a violation of my constitutional rights and those of other candidates being removed. It violates the constitutional rights of the hundreds of voters who signed my petitions, and the rights of all West Virginians who want an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties.” She vowed to fight the Secretary of State’s action.

Spencer is available for interviews. Contact her at

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