In response to a Parkersburg News and Sentinel editorial Monday questioning why Texas prison inmate Keith Judd's name was allowed on the ballot as a Democratic presidential candidate in last week's state Primary Election, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant insists federal law prohibited her office from disqualifying his candidacy. While the West Virginia Constitution prohibits a felon from running from office, that law applies only to state, county and municipal offices. Federal elections are governed by the U.S. Constitution, which states the only qualifications to be met are: candidates are to be native born citizens; at least age 35; and resident of United States for at least 14 years.
Tennant also says former Secretary of State Betty Ireland did not disqualify Judd from the primary ballot in 2008 because he was a felon but because he did not meet the filing deadline. Ireland's office provided Judd with the necessary paperwork to run as a write-in candidate at the time.