States' Peculiar Ways of Filling Legislative Vacancies
As Alan noted yesterday, legislative special elections are a helpful (if imperfect) way to judge which direction the political winds are blowing. One reason they'...
As Alan noted yesterday, legislative special elections are a helpful (if imperfect) way to judge which direction the political winds are blowing. One reason they're imperfect, though, is that not all states have them.
I was quite surprised to discover only a bare majority of states, 26 of them, generally use special elections to fill state legislative vacancies (the alternative is an appointment process, which typically requires that the seat stay in the same party's hands). I discovered that in the process of reporting a story about how the appointment process in Colorado, combined with other factors, has created a wave of early retirements.
The prevalence of appointments was striking to me in the context of the debate this year over how U.S. Senate vacancies should be filled. For legislative vacancies, Western states are especially likely to use appointments rather than special elections.
The National Conference of State Legislatures was kind enough to send me a chart that describes each state's special elections procedures, which I've tweaked into a simpler version below. There are lots of strange variations on how legislative vacancies are filled.
For example, in North Dakota political parties pick replacement legislators. However, according to NCSL:If 828 days or more remain until the expiration of the term of office, The qualified electors of a legislative district in which a vacancy in the legislative assembly occurs may petition for a special election to be called by the governor to fill the vacancy.
I'm not even going to try to describe all of the different appointment processes states use. Suffice it to say, sometimes the appointments are made by other legislators, the governor, county commissions and political parties. Several states use hybrid systems -- for example, a local political party will submit a list of candidates from which the county commission must pick.
Here's very basic list of how each state fills legislative vacancies.
Usually appointments, but with special elections in certain circumstances:
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
GOP Senator Proposes Letting States Decide Whether They Keep Obamacare1 hour ago
U.S. Abortion Rate Lowest Since Roe v. Wade, But Rising in 6 States47 minutes ago
Texas, and 13 Other States, Sue Feds Once More Before Obama Leaves2 minutes ago
Minimum Wage Ruling a Small Win for Missouri Cities Seeking to Raise It12 minutes ago
Opioid Addiction Declared a Public Health Crisis in New Jersey1 hour ago
Michigan Mayor Refuses Calls to Resign Over Alleged 'Chimps' and 'Ugly Hag' Comments1 hour ago