U.S. Senate Vacancy Elections

U.S. Senate Vacancy Elections

The authority of our government is grounded in the power of the people to choose their representatives. No Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, "The People's House," has ever taken office without an election. However, though the 17th Amendment to the Constitution requires election of all senators, it also gives states the option to fill vacancies by gubernatorial appointment. No federal mechanism exists to guarantee that all U.S. Senators – just as is the case for all U.S. House Members – serve via democratic processes. Since the passage of the 17th amendment, almost a quarter of all U.S. Senators who have ever served were originally appointed.

FairVote believes that all Members of Congress, in both houses, should be solely accountable to the voters of their states and districts, not to a sole individual with his or her own personal and political agenda. Instead of filling vacancies through shady backroom deals, seats in the U.S. Senate should be filled, in all circumstances, by direct election.


State Laws for Filling Senate Vacancies

More than 30 states allow the governor to appoint a senator until the next regularly scheduled statewide general election, rather than calling for a special election. Track laws by state through NCSL.



FairVote Resources on Elections for Senate Vacancies

FairVote op-eds and commentary

Press releases

Other resources

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