W.Va. Judge Voids Elections Complaint Gag Law

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A West Virginia judge has ruled that someone accused of violating elections law can rebut the allegations publicly.

State law now threatens anyone who discloses an elections complaint with a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and jail time.

But Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom says that blanket gag order is an overly broad restriction of speech. He ruled the law unconstitutional in a Monday order.

As a result, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said on Wednesday that she'll start confirming whether an investigation is underway.

Bloom ruled in favor of Thomas Harding, publisher of The Observer newspaper. Harding challenged the law after his attempt to cover a 2009 referendum in Jefferson County yielded an elections complaint and warnings about the gag provision. Harding had taken photos in a polling place.


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