Elections 2.0 — Votes for Senate Seats? Wild.


Just after the election, the realization of Governor Palin’s privilege to fulfill Senate vacancies drew gasps from liberal circles. The scenario that played out in the left’s collective fear involved Sarah Palin, who had been banished back to Juneau after losing, appointing herself to Ted Stevens’ seat, should the convicted felon win reelection. The thought was that the Senate Ethics Committee would likely refuse Stevens, thus opening the seat to Palin’s discretion.
Mr. Smith — err Mrs. Palin — sends herself to Washington.
Alas, such fears have been allayed, in part because Alaska state law requires that a special election be held to fill the seat, but mostly because Stevens lost the race.
But there are only several states, including Wisconsin, Oregon and Alaska, that have stripped the power of Senate appointment from their governors and returned it to their publics.
So why not? Would it be that complicated to have votes to replace Hillary in New York, Biden in Delaware and Obama in Illinois?
Voting machines are still practically warm from November’s go around.
I’m not sold on arguments that it would be too expensive and time-consuming of a process to have replacement elections. Each state party nominates a candidate; any third party candidates that can poll at a reasonable level can be included; have two debates, possibly a week apart, then hold elections before the end of January.
This isn’t a complicated process — and one that Illinois is already looking at to replace Rahm Emanuel. So why not Illinois; but, more importantly, why not everywhere?
This is one of the intricacies of our democracy that high schoolers stumble upon with disbelief. As unbelievable as Governor Blago’s auction, is that we still have this system in place.

— Brian Till

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6 comments on “Elections 2.0 — Votes for Senate Seats? Wild.

  1. MNPundit says:

    My experience was that high schoolers in New York stumbled over the requirement that they be able to parallel park in order to pass their road test.
    That just shows that no one drives in New York, not that it’s students are mental midgets.
    Eh, remember the Senate was created to keep the upper classes on top over the mob. Which is fine with me and that’s why I would rather stick with the appointed stuff as long as there is a requirement that they be the same party.


  2. David says:

    As I understand it, the 17th amendment to the US Constitution spells out how a vacancy is filled during a senator’s term of office. The starting point has to be what the law requires, and changes to the law need to be thought through very carefully, especially when dealing with a rather bizarre circumstance. I think the Illinois AG is on the right track.


  3. jhm says:

    At least part of the reluctance, IMHO, to these snap elections is
    that their success would illustrate how idiotic the other years long
    elections are. I mean we are being treated to reports of Gov.
    Romney’s future bid for Christ’s sake.


  4. Zathras says:

    My experience was that high schoolers in New York stumbled over the requirement that they be able to parallel park in order to pass their road test.
    Intricacies in the American system are there for good reasons. In this case, timely appointment of a Senator to fill out an unexpired term allows a state to be represented without subjecting it to a special election which involves a) additional expense to the state and b) greatly reduced turnout and consequent greater influence on the part of organized pressure groups. Admittedly a problem arises in cases where a Senator is elected President from a state the governor of which is alleged to be going on a one-man crime spree. This however is not a frequent enough occurance to justify altering the procedures for replacing Senators departing in the middle of their terms in all states.
    Given the political culture in Illinois, it might be best to move to special elections exclusively, since governors under indictment or worse appear to be more the rule than the exception.


  5. jdporter says:

    Please – Enough with the “2.0”.


  6. Ben Rosengart says:

    Brian, at no point was there any valid reason to fear a self-
    appointment from Governor Palin. She simply did not have the
    I don’t understand why you’d base a post around a misconception,
    without flagging the misconception as such.


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