The Sheriff’s Succession Amendment, a change in the West Virginia constitution to allow a county sheriff to serve two terms, or eight years, before becoming ineligible for reelection, was ratified by the voters at a special statewide election November 6, 1973. The constitution originally provided that ‘‘the same person shall not be elected sheriff for two consecutive full terms; nor shall any person who acted as his deputy be elected successor to such sheriff, nor shall any sheriff act as deputy of his successor, nor shall he during his term of service, or within one year thereafter be eligible to any other office.’’ The 1973 amendment, which also removed the restrictions on deputies running for sheriff, increased the influence of county sheriffs in West Virginia.
The amendment was first submitted to the voters by the legislature in 1962 but was soundly rejected by a vote of 362,884 against and 128,772 in favor. In 1973, three years after voters ratified an amendment to allow the governor to be eligible for reelection to a second term, it was one of four constitutional amendments put before the voters, and it was approved by a margin of 123,003 to 107,427. Attempts since 1973 to remove all term limitations for sheriffs have been defeated in 1982 by a vote of 320,308 to 178,713; in 1986 by a vote of 269,622 to 123,966; and in 1994 by a count of 251,924 to 131,134.
This Article was written by Tom D. Miller
Last Revised on October 29, 2010