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Filling Legislative Vacancies

Filling Legislative Vacancies

view of a capitol dome

 

Last updated January 6, 2010. 

 

There is tremendous variation among state legislatures in how they fill a vacancy among their membership when it occurs.  In general, the vacancy is filled either through a special election or by appointment, and the states fall evenly into two groups of 25 on this.  The variations become evident when looking closely at the details in terms of who makes appointments and whether the appointee must be of the same political party as the person vacating the seat.

 


Vacancy Filled by Special Election

In the following 25 states, a vacancy in the legislature is filled by a special election.

 

Alabama
Louisiana
Oklahoma
Arkansas
Maine
Pennsylvania
California
Massachusetts
Rhode Island
Connecticut
Michigan
South Carolina
Delaware
Minnesota
Texas
Florida
Mississippi
Virginia
Georgia
Missouri
Wisconsin
Iowa
New Hampshire
 
Kentucky
New York
 

 


Vacancy Filled by Appointment

*State law stipulates that appointee must be of the same political party as the person s/he succeeds.

Political Party Appoints

  • *Colorado (Colo. Const., Art. 5, Sec. 2(3); Colo. Rev. Stat. §1-12-103)
  • *Illinois (IL Const. Art. 4, Sec. 2(d); 10 ILCS 5/25-6)
  • Indiana (IC §3-13-5-0.1)
  • New Jersey (N.J. Const., Art. IV, Sec. 1(1))
  • North Dakota (7) (N.D. Code §16.1-13-10)

Board of County Commissioners Appoints

  • *Arizona (1) (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §41-1202)
  • Montana (2) (MT Const. Art. 5, Sec 7; Mont. Code Ann. §5-2-401 et seq.)
  • *Nevada (Nev. Const. Art. 4, Sec. 12)
  • New Mexico (N.M. Const. Art. 4, Sec. 4)
  • *Oregon (ORS §171.051)
  • Washington (1) (Wash. Const. Art. 2, Sec. 15, as amended by Amendment 52)
  • Wyoming (1) (Wyo. Const. Art. 3, Sec. 51; Wyo. Stat., §22-18-111(a)(iii))

Governor Appoints

  • *Alaska (Alaska Const. Art. 2, Sec. 4 and AK Stat. §15.40.320)
  • *Hawaii (3) (Hawaii Const. Art. 3, Sec. 5; Hawaii Rev. Stat., §17-3 and 17-4)
  • *Idaho (4) (Idaho Code §59-904A)
  • Kansas (5) (KS Const. Art. 2, Sec. 9; KS Stat. Ann. §25-3902)
  • *Maryland (5) (Md. Const. Art. 3, Sec. 13)
  • Nebraska (Neb. Rev. Stat. §32-566)
  • North Carolina (5) (NC Const. Art. 2, Sec. 10; NC Gen. Stat. § 163-11)
  • South Dakota (S.D. Const. Art. 3, Sec. 10)
  • Utah (4) (Utah Const. Art. 6, Sec. 13; Utah Code §20A-1-503)
  • Vermont (Vt. Const. Chap. 2, Art. 45; Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. 2, §4 and 9)
  • West Virginia (4) (W.Va. Const. Art. 4, Sec. 7; W.Va. Code Ann. §3-10-5)

Members of the Same House and Party as the Last Incumbent Appoint

Ohio (Ohio Const. Art. 2, Sec. 11)

Legislature Appoints

Tennessee (6) (Tenn. Const. Art. 2, Sec. 15)

 


 

Notes

  1.  Board appoints a person from a list submitted by a committee of the political party of the last incumbent.
  2. If vacancy occurs 85 days or more before the general election in the second year of the term (terms are for four years), an individual is elected to fill the vacancy instead of making an appointment.
  3. Governor must choose from a list of three prospective nominees provided by the political party of the prior incumbent. If a senate vacancy occurs at least 10 days prior to the close of filing for the mid-term primary election (terms are for four years), an individual is elected to fill the vacancy instead of making an appointment.
  4. Governor appoints a person from a list submitted by a committee of the political party of the person resigning.
  5. Governor appoints a person selected by a committee of the political party of the person resigning.
  6. If twelve months or more remain prior to the next general election for legislators, a replacement is elected rather than appointed.
  7. 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.
 

For More Information

Contact Jennie Drage Bowser or Tim Storey in NCSL's Denver office at 303-364-7700.

 

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