Taxpayers want the government to use their money wisely, so efforts to save money or reduce spending usually receive high marks. However, sometimes spending extra money can be justified. That was the case with the special election to fill the remaining time in the term of U.S. Rep. Mel Watt. Watt, a Democrat, resigned his seat representing North Carolina’s 12th District, which includes part of Davidson County, on Monday to become director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Later that day, Gov. Pat McCrory announced the dates for the special election to fill Watt’s term. Rather than set a date as soon as possible, McCrory decided to overlap the special election with the electoral dates already set for 2014: May 6 for a primary, July 15 for a run-off and Nov. 4 for the general election. McCrory cited logistical issues with the special election along with costs for setting the schedule he did. He estimated it will save $1 million statewide.
In one respect, it makes sense to use dates when polls were already going to be open. To hold a special election in Davidson County, for example, would cost about $20,000, election officials estimated. Turnout for these races can often be low, and they only affect a portion of the voters in the county.
However, using the primary and general election dates means people who live in the 12th District will go without representation for almost the entire year. The person who wins the special election will only serve a couple of months before the winner of the regular election takes office. It most likely will be the same person, but it might not be. Other representatives, including Republicans Richard Hudson and Virginia Foxx, who represent portions of Davidson County, would hopefully be willing to help out residents of the 12th District in the meantime.