More ballot problems in W.Va. Senate race?

The legal issues surrounding West Virginia's special Senate election might not be over, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.

The paper reports that the office of state Attorney General Darrell McGraw has received a complaint that the special-election ballot is illegal since it lists the Senate special on the same ballot as November's other races.

After the death earlier this year of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), weeks of confusion ensued over the interpretation of state election law and exactly when a special election to fill the remainder of his term could be held.

The West Virginia State Legislature finally settled the question by changing the law to allow a special election for this November, which pits Gov. Joe Manchin (D) against Republican businessman John Raese.

The legal challenge comes from Janet Thompson, a candidate running for state delegate. She argues that the secretary of state misinterpreted state election law. From the Daily Mail:

Thompson, a paralegal, argues that the ballots should be separate because the Senate election is considered a special election.

[Secretary of State Natalie] Tennant said earlier this week she went with the layout as a "a cost-saving measure and to avoid voter confusion."

The Senate race is where it would normally be — high on the ballot. The layout also is designed to prevent straight-ticket voters from forgetting to vote in the special Senate election.

Officials were concerned that two ballots — with the Senate race separate from the regular ticket — would result in straight-ticket voters leaving the voting booth without casting a vote in the Senate race.

The paper reported that it's unclear just how seriously the state AG's office is taking the complaint, but it's worth noting that McGraw and Tennant locked horns earlier this year over her initial interpretation of state election law.

Having to redo the special-election ballots would likely cost the state tens of thousands of dollars.