Secretary of State of West Virginia

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The Secretary of State of West Virginia is an elected office within the U.S. state of West Virginia state government. The secretary of state is responsible for overseeing the state's election process, including voter registration and election results reporting.

The current Secretary of State, Natalie Tennant (D-Kanawha Co.), was elected in November 2008 and assumed the office in January 2009.


The Office of Secretary of State is a publicly elected statewide position with elections held every four years. Elections are held in November and officers assume their duties the following January. There are no term limits for the office.

If the office of secretary of state becomes vacant, it is the duty of the governor to fill the position by appointment. The appointee serves until a new commissioner is elected.

Qualifications for being elected to the office are that one is a citizen entitled to vote, who has been a resident of West Virginia for at least the preceding 5 years.


The West Virginia Secretary of State is the smallest constitutional office in the state - physically, fiscally, and in terms of the number of staff.[1] The duties of the office, though, are extensive. The primary responsibility of the secretary is to serve as the chief election officer. The "work horse" of the office is the business and licensing division, which registers, licenses, and keeps a database of all businesses, corporations, charities, notary publics, private investigators, and sports agents operating within West Virginia. The secretary also files public notices of all state agency meetings, sends official documents on behalf of the governor, and certifies gubernatorial proclamations by affixing the state seal and their signature to official documents.[1]


The Secretary of State's Office is organized as follows:

The Secretary of State also serves as registered agents for service of process for certain types of defendants in lawsuits.[4]

List of West Virginia Secretaries of State[edit]

Below is a list of West Virginia's Secretaries of State since 1863:

Name Party Term Residence
Jacob Edgar Boyers Republican 1863–1865 Tyler Co.
Granville D. Hall Republican 1865–1867 Ohio Co.
John S. Witcher Republican 1867–1869 Cabell Co.
James M. Pipes Republican 1869–1871 Marshall Co.
John M. Phelps Republican 1871–1873 Mason Co.
Charles Hedrick Democratic 1873–1877 Kanawha Co.
Sobieski Brady Democratic 1877–1881 Ohio Co.
Randolph Stalnaker Democratic 1881–1885 Greenbrier Co.
Henry S. Walker Democratic 1885–1890 Kanawha Co.
William A. Ohley* Democratic 1890–1893 Marion Co.
William E. Chilton Democratic 1893–1897 Kanawha Co.
William M.O. Dawson Republican 1897–1905 Raleigh Co.
Charles Wesley Swisher Republican 1905–1909 Marion Co.
Stuart F. Reed Republican 1909–1917 Harrison Co.
Houston G. Young Republican 1917–1925 Harrison Co.
George W. Sharp Republican 1925–1933 Pocahontas Co.
William S. O'Brien Democratic 1933–1948 Upshur Co.
Daniel Pitt O'Brien* Democratic 1948–1957 Upshur Co.
Helen F. Holt Republican 1957–1958 Lewis Co.
Joe F. Burdett* Democratic 1958–1965 Mason Co.
Robert D. Bailey, Jr. Democratic 1965–1969 Wyoming Co.
John D. Rockefeller, IV Democratic 1969–1972 Kanawha Co.
Edgar F. Heiskell, III* Republican 1972–1975 Barbour Co.
James R. McCartney Republican 1975–1977 Monongalia Co.
A. James Manchin Democratic 1977–1985 Marion Co.
Ken Hechler Democratic 1985–2001 Grant Co.
Joe Manchin III Democratic 2001–2005 Marion Co.
Betty Ireland Republican 2005–2009 Kanawha Co.
Natalie Tennant Democratic 2009present Kanawha Co.

*elected to fill unexpired term

See also[edit]


External links[edit]