Secretary of State of West Virginia

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. She was defeated for re-election in 2016 and will leave office in January 2017, to be replaced by Mac Warner.


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

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

Name Party Term
Jacob Boyers Republican 1863–1865
Granville D. Hall Republican 1865–1867
John S. Witcher Republican 1867–1869
James M. Pipes Republican 1869–1871
John M. Phelps Republican 1871–1873
Charles Hedrick Democratic 1873–1877
Sobieski Brady Democratic 1877–1881
Randolph Stalnaker Democratic 1881–1885
Henry S. Walker Democratic 1885–1890
William A. Ohley* Democratic 1890–1893
William E. Chilton Democratic 1893–1897
William Dawson Republican 1897–1905
Charles Swisher Republican 1905–1909
Stuart F. Reed Republican 1909–1917
Houston G. Young Republican 1917–1925
George W. Sharp Republican 1925–1933
William O'Brien Democratic 1933–1948
Daniel Pitt O'Brien* Democratic 1948–1957
Helen F. Holt Republican 1957–1958
Joe F. Burdett* Democratic 1958–1965
Robert Bailey Democratic 1965–1969
Jay Rockefeller Democratic 1969–1972
Edgar Heiskell* Republican 1972–1975
James R. McCartney Republican 1975–1977
A. James Manchin Democratic 1977–1985
Ken Hechler Democratic 1985–2001
Joe Manchin Democratic 2001–2005
Betty Ireland Republican 2005–2009
Natalie Tennant Democratic 2009–2017
Mac Warner Republican 2017

*elected to fill unexpired term

See also


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