A candidate for the U.S. House seat vacated by former U.S. Rep John Conyers filed a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Snyder demanding that the election be moved up to an earlier date. On Dec. 8, Gov. Snyder had announced that Conyers’ congressional seat would remain empty until the regularly scheduled November election, leaving it vacant for nearly a year. What’s more, political observers have pointed out that since the post will be listed twice — once in the August primary and again in the November general election ballots — the office could be held by two different people before January is out. In short, the move would leave Detroiters without effective representation for 11 months — and perhaps even longer.
As the Associated Press noted earlier this month, judging by a review of roughly 100 vacancies and successors listed on the House website for the last 20 years, it is unusual for a congressional district to stay vacant for so long. Eleven months would be the longest time a House seat stayed empty during that period.
Gov. Snyder had said his decision would both save money and give candidates ample time to campaign. But given his role in establishing Emergency Management in Michigan, this situation calls another lawsuit to mind — namely one filed by the Detroit Branch of the NAACP against Gov. Snyder that Emergency Management has violated the voting rights of the state’s African Americans, effectively stripping representation away from residents in majority-minority cities and school districts. By some estimates, more than half of the state’s blacks had their representatives overruled by Snyder-appointed viceroys.