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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Secretary of State Natalie Tennant on Friday asked Gov. Joe Manchin to call a special session to correct a 1990 state election law that otherwise will prevent voters from electing a replacement for the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd until 2012.
"I personally believe that the voters of the state should be allowed to elect a successor to Senator Byrd sooner than November of 2012," Tennant said in a statement released Friday afternoon, following the memorial ceremony at the Capitol for Byrd.
On Monday, Tennant said that, because of a quirk in the 1990 law for filling vacancies in the U.S. Senate, as well as a variety of statewide offices, a special election cannot be held earlier than November 2012.
That would mean the governor's appointee to the Senate could serve a temporary term of as long as 31 months, while the winner of the special election would serve for as little as five to six weeks.
The full, six-year term for the Senate seat will also be on the November 2012 ballot.
Tennant said that, as secretary of state, she is obligated to enforce the election law as it currently stands, but believes it should be revised to allow an election this fall.
"I personally would support any attempt by the Legislature to change the current law," she said Friday. "If the state Legislature considers changing the law, my staff and I will work with lawmakers to develop a law that works for West Virginia."