Why Some House Districts Won’t Have A Representative For Almost A Year

We may have learned at school that the House of Representatives has 435 members, but right now it only has 430 – five seats vacant. We are not talking about retirement at the end of the term. these five districts for now I don’t have a member of Congress because their former residents resigned or died earlier this year. And some of these districts will have no House representation for much of the 117th Congress.

For example, Marcia Fudge resigned from the house on March 10th To become Secretary for Housing and Urban Development, her Ohio 11th District seat will not be filled until a special election takes place November 2237 days after her resignation. Rep. Alcee Hastings also died on April 6thand left its seat in the 20th District of Florida vacant until at least January 11, 2022 – a period of 280 days. And as you can see in the table below, these long house vacancies are increasingly the norm. From 1997 to 2009 only one seat in the house was vacant for at least 200 days; since 2010 this number of seats has increased to 21.

Why are vacancies getting longer? One reason for this is that it simply takes longer to make a special election these days. In 2009, Congress passed the Law to Strengthen Voters in the Military and OverseasStates must send the desired postal ballot papers to overseas voters at least 45 days before a federal election. Add in time to print out the ballots and double the result as most special elections include both a primary phase and a general phase. So you see a special election period of at least 100 days.

However, a simple change in electoral law does not explain the entire increase. Take a look at the table below, which lists the 10 seats in the house that have been vacant the longest since 1997. Nine of them have something in common: not only have the vacancies been filled in the last 10 years, but also the representatives who have left the office. The seats did not belong to the same party as the governors of their states. The latter is noteworthy because governors are almost always the ones who Choose the dates for house special elections.

Partiality can lead to prolonged vacancies

The 10 longest open positions in the US House of Representatives since 1997, and whether the outgoing representative and governor of the state belonged to different parties

Seat Dates free days free Outgoing rep. Party Ruling party Counterparties?
WED-13 05.12.17 – 29.11.18 359 D. R.
APPROX. 50 01/13/20 – 01/03/21 356 R. D.
NC-12 06.01.14 – 12.11.14 310 D. R.
NJ-13 01/16/06 – 11/13/06 301 D. D.
NY-27 09/30/19 – 07/21/2020 295 R. D.
FL-20 4/6/21 – 1/11/22 * 280 D. R.
NC-11 03/30/20 – 01/03/21 279 R. D.
NJ-01 02/18/14 – 11/12/14 267 D. R.
NC-09 03.01.19 – 17.09.19 257 R. D.
NJ-10 06.03.12 – 15.11.12 254 D. R.

* We don’t know exactly when Florida’s 20th district headquarters will be occupied, but it should be shortly after the district’s special election on January 11, 2022.

Source: US House of Representatives

In fact, from 1997 to 2010 house seats whose representatives and governors were not from the same party remained vacant for slightly less (98 days on average) than seats whose representatives and governors were from the same party (113 days later on average). Since 2011, the seats in the House of Representatives with a governor from the opposing party have been vacant for an average of 192 days. House seat vacancies with a governor from the same party have also increased, but only to an average of 137 days (likely mainly due to the 2009 MOVE law and its extension of special election schedules).

This one-sided difference suggests that governors are increasingly delaying special elections in order to withdraw a vote from their political opponents and vote in the house. For example, the office of Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom claimed there was not enough time Hold a special election after a Republican stepped down from California’s 50th district in January 2020 – despite scheduling a special election in May 2020 after the Democratic-held 25th district became vacant two months earlier.

According to David CanonAs a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it is no coincidence that the tipping point came after mid-2010 and the rise of the Tea Party Republicans, who emphasized stifling the Democratic agenda. “Politics without borders is becoming more of the norm at this time,” Canon told FiveThirtyEight. “We see a different political style, a much more aggressive policy. [of] try to gain a partisan advantage wherever you can. ”

This political art of play has particularly disadvantaged districts with a large black population in red states. With predominantly black districts being some of the safest democratic seats in the country, those that become vacant in Republican-ruled states tend to remain open longer than any other vacant seat. In fact, four of the ten longest vacancies since 1997 have been in predominantly black districts.

As of at least December 2003, every black pluralistic district that has become free in a Republican-ruled state has remained free for at least 200 days except for one. In fact, these places remained vacant for an average of 254 days. In contrast, several black counties that were evacuated in states with democratic governors remained empty for an average of just 92 days.

This also explains the long wait times for representation faced by residents of Florida’s 20th district and Ohio’s 11th district. Both have a population of 53 percent black, and both Florida and Ohio have Republican governors. The disproportionate racist impact is a major reason why many locals are upset about these long vacancies;; A candidate for the 20th Florida, Elvin Dowling, is currently to complain about it. “I understand that the Florida governor is deliberately disenfranchising 800,000 residents, most of whom happen to be black [or] Latino, for his personal political gain, ”Dowling told FiveThirtyEight. (The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.)

So far, however, these complaints have largely been ignored. It is unlikely that the special election dates will be postponed. Indeed, long vacant homes are becoming the norm in all types of boroughs; At the last congress, the average vacancy period was up to 206 days. In other words, if your member of Congress leaves office prematurely, you should be ready to be left without a representative for nearly a year.

Leave a Comment