CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — It’s always been a high political honor to serve as a delegate to a national political convention, that ultimately confirms the party nominee for president. For decades, candidates for West Virginia Republican delegates would get their name on the primary election ballot, and let voters decide. But over the weekend, the state’s Republican Executive Committee voted to end that tradition, and have people apply to the committee for convention seats instead.
“First of all, the county clerks unanimously asked for that change to be made, because of long lines at the polls last time and long ballots that cost a lot of money,” said Byron Fisher, Executive Director, West Virginia Republican Party.
In 2016 Republican voters chose 35 delegates and 32 alternatives. As lengthy as that made the ballots, supporters say ultimately the party faithful got to decide. Ron Walters was elected delegate to the Republican National Committee four times.
“It’s always been the power of the voter to select the convention delegates from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Congressional districts and on an at-large basis statewide. It should always have remained that way,” said Ron Walters, a four-time GOP convention delegate.
But the party executive committee voted 92 to 12, to end the practice of having voters decide.
“In the end, West Virginia was one of only a few states left that allowed voters to directly elect their convention delegates, but critics say it just undermines democracy to get rid of that concept,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.