Manchin v. Dunfee, No. 16481

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtMILLER
Citation174 W.Va. 532,327 S.E.2d 710
Decision Date06 December 1984
Docket NumberNo. 16481
PartiesA. James MANCHIN, Secretary of State v. Bill DUNFEE, et al., etc.

Page 710

327 S.E.2d 710
174 W.Va. 532
A. James MANCHIN, Secretary of State
v.
Bill DUNFEE, et al., etc.
No. 16481.
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
Dec. 6, 1984.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 10, 1985.

Page 711

[174 W.Va. 533] Syllabus by the Court

1. The term "election contest," as well as the terms "canvass" and "recount," are all technical terms created and utilized by the legislature throughout our election laws. Technical words used in a statute will be presumed to have been used in a technical sense and will ordinarily be given their strict meaning.

2. In 1983 when the legislature enacted W.Va.Code, 3-4A-19a, it intended that ballot cards used in electronic voting systems are required to be signed by the two poll clerks. It also mandated that the lack of such signatures on ballot cards could be challenged only in an election contest.

3. In the interpretation of statutory provisions the familiar maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius, the express mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another, applies.

4. "The rule that statutes which relate to the same subject should be read and construed together is a rule of statutory construction and does not apply to a statutory provision which is clear and unambiguous." Syllabus Point 1, State v. Epperly, 135 W.Va. 877, 65 S.E.2d 488 (1951).

Edward Rebrook, III, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Charleston, for appellant.

William T. Watson, Huntington, for appellees.

MILLER, Justice:

This is an appeal by the Secretary of State of West Virginia from the denial of a writ of mandamus by the Circuit Court of Cabell County. At issue is the meaning of a 1983 amendment to our electronic voting statute, W.Va.Code, 3-4A-119a, relating to the signing of ballot cards by the poll clerks. After requiring the ballot cards to be signed by each of the two poll clerks, the statute concludes: "In the course of an election contest, if it is established that a ballot card does not contain the two signatures[174 W.Va. 534] required by this section, such ballot card shall be null, void and of no effect, and shall not be counted." 1

Page 712

This issue arose when the Cabell County Commission, acting as the Board of Canvassers following the June 5, 1984 primary election, refused to count some 223 ballot cards in the final tabulations because these ballot cards lacked one or both of the poll clerks' signatures. The Secretary of State, as the chief election official, upon learning of this fact filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the circuit court to require the Board to include the 223 ballot cards in its canvass.

An important fact that appears not to be disputed by the respondents is that the number of ballot cards issued was equal to the number of persons voting. W.Va.Code, 3-4A-19. There was also no claim made of any other irregularities or fraud in connection with the 223 ballot cards.

The circuit court concluded that W.Va.Code, 3-4A-19a, must be read with W.Va.Code, 3-6-7, since they relate to the same subject matter, i.e., they are in pari materia. This latter statute deals with irregularities in voting by paper ballot and contains this provision: "Any ballot which is not endorsed with the names of the poll clerks, as provided in this chapter, shall be void." Further argument is made that W.Va.Code, 3-1-34, relating to the general voting procedures by paper ballots at the precinct level, contains the general requirement that both poll workers shall sign each ballot.

The electronic voting statute, W.Va.Code, 3-4A-1 through -34, was first enacted in 1969 and was substantially amended in 1982. 2 It is a self-contained statute which encompasses thirty-five sections and deals with all aspects of electronic voting. W.Va.Code, 3-4A-3 through -9, explain how an electronic voting system may be adopted and its specifications. W.Va.Code, 3-4A-11 through -15, outline the ballot requirements, and the instructions of poll workers and others involved in the system. W.Va.Code, 3-4A-16 through -26, describe how the electronic voting devices are to be utilized at the polls and at the central counting center. W.Va.Code, 3-4A-27 through -29, detail how the ballot cards are counted and canvassed and also provides for recount procedures.

W.Va.Code, 3-4A-32, states that: "Except as modified by this article, the general laws applying to regular, special and primary elections shall apply to elections conducted with the use of electronic voting systems." We take this to mean that where a matter exists in the general election law that is not otherwise covered in the electronic voting system statute, such general law is applicable. However, where the electronic voting system statute contains provisions on matters which differ from those covered in our general election law, then the electronic voting statute should control.

[174 W.Va. 535] The controlling language in W.Va.Code, 3-4A-19a is "[i]n the course of an election contest, if it is established that a ballot card does not contain the two signatures required ... such ballot card shall be null, void and of no effect." The term "election contest" is a technical term in our election law which describes the procedure, set out in W.Va.Code, 3-7-1 through -9, available to a candidate to challenge an election after the canvass and recount have occurred. An election contest is a separate proceeding from a canvass or a recount and is usually pursued following the completion of a requested recount. State ex rel. Booth v. Board of Ballot Commissioners,

Page 713

156 W.Va. 657, 672, 196 S.E.2d 299, 309 (1973); Duncan v. County Court, 138 W.Va. 106, 112, 75 S.E.2d 97, 101 (1953); State ex rel. Bumgardner v. Mills, 132 W.Va. 580, 593, 53 S.E.2d 416, 426 (1949); Reynolds v. Board of Canvassers, 117 W.Va. 770, 773, 188 S.E. 229, 230 (1936).

The term "election contest," as well as the terms "canvass" and "recount," are all technical terms created and utilized by the legislature throughout our election laws. We have traditionally held that technical words used in a statute "will be presumed to have been used in a technical sense and will ordinarily be given their strict meaning." Wooddell v. Dailey, 160 W.Va. 65, 68-69, 230 S.E.2d 466, 469 (1976); see also Lane v. Board of Education, 147 W.Va. 737, 131 S.E.2d 165 (1963). We have stated consistently that "[t]he Legislature, when it enacts...

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57 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Hechler v. Christian Action Network, No. 23573
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 16, 1997
    ...unius est exclusio alterius, the express mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another, applies." Syl. pt. 3, Manchin v. Dunfee, 174 W.Va. 532, 327 S.E.2d 710 10. W. Va. Code, 29-19-8 [1992] does not authorize the Secretary of State to require charitable organizations to submit to h......
  • Kessel v. Monongalia County General Hosp., No. 33096.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 6, 2007
    ...of a fundamental principle of statutory construction, being expressio unius est exclusio alterius. See, Syl. Pt. 3, Manchin v. Dunfee, 174 W.Va. 532, 327 S.E.2d 710 (1984) ("In the interpretation of statutory provisions, the familiar maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius, the express ......
  • Savilla v. Speedway Superamerica, LLC, No. 33053.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 16, 2006
    ...alterius [means] the express mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another [.]" Syllabus Point 3, in part, Manchin v. Dunfee, 174 W.Va. 532, 327 S.E.2d 710 (1984). Applying this principle in the instant case, W.Va.Code, 23-4-2(c)'s express mention of certain persons who have a cause......
  • State v. Beaver, 22-616
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 17, 2022
    ...("expressio unius"), which means "the expression of one thing, being the exclusion of the other." See Syl. Pt. 3, Manchin v. Dunfee, 174 W.Va. 532, 327 S.E.2d 710 (1984). Further, Respondents assert that construing the "free schools" clause in pari materia[15] with sections 2, 4, and 5 of a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
57 cases
  • State ex rel. Hechler v. Christian Action Network, No. 23573
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 16, 1997
    ...unius est exclusio alterius, the express mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another, applies." Syl. pt. 3, Manchin v. Dunfee, 174 W.Va. 532, 327 S.E.2d 710 10. W. Va. Code, 29-19-8 [1992] does not authorize the Secretary of State to require charitable organizations to submit to h......
  • Kessel v. Monongalia County General Hosp., No. 33096.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 6, 2007
    ...of a fundamental principle of statutory construction, being expressio unius est exclusio alterius. See, Syl. Pt. 3, Manchin v. Dunfee, 174 W.Va. 532, 327 S.E.2d 710 (1984) ("In the interpretation of statutory provisions, the familiar maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius, the express ......
  • Savilla v. Speedway Superamerica, LLC, No. 33053.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 16, 2006
    ...alterius [means] the express mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another [.]" Syllabus Point 3, in part, Manchin v. Dunfee, 174 W.Va. 532, 327 S.E.2d 710 (1984). Applying this principle in the instant case, W.Va.Code, 23-4-2(c)'s express mention of certain persons who have a cause......
  • State v. Beaver, 22-616
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 17, 2022
    ...("expressio unius"), which means "the expression of one thing, being the exclusion of the other." See Syl. Pt. 3, Manchin v. Dunfee, 174 W.Va. 532, 327 S.E.2d 710 (1984). Further, Respondents assert that construing the "free schools" clause in pari materia[15] with sections 2, 4, and 5 of a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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