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. The U.S. Senate is now also a house of the people. Though the 17th Amendment to the Constitution requires election of all senators, it also gives states the option to fill vacancies by gubernatorial appointment, and 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, and today about a quarter of the U.S. population is represented by at least one senator that no one voted for.
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.
FairVote Resources on Elections for Senate Vacancies
FairVote op-eds and commentary
- Rob Richie: It's time to elect all U.S. senators, McClatchy Papers
- David Segal: No more appointed senators, Baltimore Sun
- David Segal: Don't Name That Senator, New York Times
- David Moon: Fumbling Toward Democracy, The Hill
- FairVote Innovative Analysis: The Senate Loses its Cool
Media coverage citing FairVote research
- Replacing Senator Kennedy, New York Times
- A way to restore the people's Senate, Detroit Free Press
- Successor can wait, Scripps Howard News Service
- Over-mighty governors, The Economist
- September 1, 2009 - Blagojevich "Tell-All" Book Shows You Can't Play Appointment Games in U.S. House Elections
- August 25, 2009 - Major Editorials: Let Voters Choose Massachusetts' Senators
- August 21, 2009 - FairVote: Massachusetts Should Not Move to Appointed Senators
- January 29 - Senate Vacancies: A FairVote Policy Perspective
- Text of SJ 7, Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to the election of Senators.
- FairVote analyst David Segal's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of SJ 7