The Case for Appointments Over Special Elections
I, among many others, wondered in light of the Blagojevich scandal why we don't simply use special elections to fill all U.S. Senate ...
I, among many others, wondered in light of the Blagojevich scandal why we don't simply use special elections to fill all U.S. Senate vacancies -- as we do for all U.S. House vacancies. Joshua Spivak lays out the case for gubernatorial appointments in the Washington Post:
But there are hidden, and more fundamental, problems, too. Turnout for special elections is dramatically lower than it is for general elections. This shouldn't be a surprise -- voters have to care enough to come out for just one race, while on Election Day the presidency or a governorship may also be on the line. A perfect example was the recent Georgia runoff. This was a high-profile race, yet turnout was only a little more than half what it had been just 30 days before. Similarly, recall votes for state legislators, to cite one of the more regularly occurring special elections in the 18 states where they're allowed, typically attract a quarter to half as many voters as regular elections. Therefore winners are chosen by a seriously skewed electorate -- generally the most committed or more extreme members of each party.
A second problem involves primaries. Even in places that require special elections, there may be no requirement that parties hold primaries, giving party leaders a disproportionate role in making the selection. In states where one party dominates, that party's choice can be tantamount to an appointment. In New York, this method has been used and abused both for congressional representatives and state and local politicians. Sometimes, officials appear to time resignations in order to force a special election -- and ensure that a chosen successor has an easy path to victory.
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
Children's Health Insurance Is Safe Now, But Uncertainty Awaits1 hour ago
Despite Threats to Hospital Funding, Texas Governor Still Won't Expand Medicaid4 hours ago
Aides Form Super PAC to Promote Illinois Governor's Agenda4 hours ago
Christie Backers Moving Over to Team Jeb Bush4 hours ago
After Hiking Gas Tax, Iowa Plans $700M in Road Construction5 hours ago
U.S. Supreme Court Sends Redistricting Maps Back to North Carolina for More Review8 hours ago