Oaths of Public Officials

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When May the New Officer Take the Oath?

Often, a newly elected official may wish to have a ceremonial event at which friends are present and he or she takes the oath of office. In the case of an elected official, it is important that the official's election have been certified or declared as provided by law before the official oath is taken.

For example, a state official or legislator is not officially declared elected until the Legislature convenes and the official returns of the election are presented to and accepted by the Legislature. A circuit judge is not officially declared elected until the Governor issues a proclamation and a magistrate must be commissioned by the Governor. A county official is not officially elected until the board of canvassers certifies the election.

Generally, new officials must take the oath of office before beginning the duties of the office. The oath can be taken before the term begins, provided the election is certified and/or finally declared by the appropriate body.

Where is the Oath to be Filed?

The oaths of all state officials, including constitutional officers, justices, members of the Legislature, circuit judges, members of boards and commissions appointed by the Governor, executive appointees to administrative positions, and other offices not otherwise specified are filed with the Secretary of State. (See W.Va. Code §6-1-6)

The oaths of county officials and magistrates are filed with the clerk of the county commission, except that original oaths of members of the board of education are filed with the secretary of the board (the superintendent of schools) and a certified copy with the clerk of the county commission. (See W.Va. Code §6-1-6)

The originals oaths of all municipal officials are filed with the recorder or clerk of the municipality and a certified copy with the clerk of the county commission of the county in which the major portion of the municipality is located. (See W.Va. Code §6-1-6)

Some oaths of office, such as those of election officials and certain appointed officers, for example, are filed as prescribed in the section requiring the oath.


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