Under California law, the governor is allowed to choose a replacement for a statewide-elected official who vacates her post midterm. He chooses a replacement for county supervisor when one of those positions is unexpectedly vacated as well. It’s an easy and painless process that doesn’t attract much controversy or concern from voters. So why can’t the governor do the same thing with state legislators? This isn’t an idle question – in fact, it’s an expensive one. There have been 10 legislative desertions in the past year alone. In accordance with state law, each of these vacancies requires a special election at an average cost of $1 million. Can’t California always use a spare $10 million?
There are other reasons to get rid of these kinds of special elections, too. “They’re definitely expensive and time-consuming, and special elections also have the quality of having low voter turnout,” said Mark Baldassare, president of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. Low voter turnout means that only a tiny fraction of eligible voters – sometimes as little as 12 percent – are choosing the new representative. How fair is that?
Meanwhile, those voters are going without full representation in the state Legislature.
“Some state senators represent a million people,” said state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who supports the idea of having the governor appoint vacancies in the Legislature. “For months, a million people are going without representation in Sacramento. It’s time to look at a more efficient, less expensive way to handle this problem.”
Full Article: Special elections not best for lawmaker vacancies – SFGate.