Ladies, looks like you're in luck this Saturday! Prohibition lives again in West Virginia for one day only.
West Virginians seeking to cheer on their favorite teams while enjoying mixed drinks and shooters will need to stock-up on booze before Saturday. The state code prohibits the sale of liquor in retail stores on election day which just happens to fall on Saturday due to the special primary election to determine a potential successor to the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.).
Greg Gray, clerk for the state House of Delegates, told the Charleston Daily Mail that West Virginia’s prohibition on election day liquor sales dates back to the state’s founding in 1863. In those days, “politicians were suspected of buying votes with booze and saloons often were used as polling places,” the Daily Mail notes.
Over the years, the liquor prohibition and penalties for ‘lawbreakers’ have been amended, but a total ban has never been enacted to catch the state up with modern times. On Saturday, the only legal way to purchase hard alcohol in the state will be to make a trip across state lines or to local bars and restaurants not affected by the law’s antiquated restrictions.
“We notified several weeks ago that on Saturday the 28th, there will be no retail liquor sales,” said Alcohol Beverage Control Administration spokesman Gary Robinson said. “It is what it is; it’s a statewide Election Day, and that’s what the rules are.”
Liquor retailers, despite the ‘advanced’ warning from state officials, decried the old nanny state law as detrimental to their sales for an entire weekend. The state already outlaws liquor sales on Sundays.
“I think from an industry standpoint, it does fall on a Saturday, which is a busy day – a weekend day in the summer – and so there will be an impact on the retail stores in West Virginia,” said Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association. “(General and primary elections) occur on a slow Tuesday, so this really will have an impact greater than a general or primary election because it is a busy summer Saturday.”
Lambert told the Daily Mail that Saturday’s liquor ban will also have an adverse affect on the state since it will not be able to collect sales tax revenues on Saturday purchases. It’s especially worth noting that college classes have resumed and this weekend marks the beginning of ‘drinking season’ for many retailers and their customers of legal drinking age.
“Maybe this will be an added incentive for the state of West Virginia to review their antiquated liquor statutes regarding the sale of spirits,” Lambert said. “It is time to look at this.”