Vail Daily’s View: Voters should replace senators
Vail, CO, Colorado
Why does democracy go out the door in most states when U.S. senators vacate their seats?
In 38 states ” including Colorado ” the governor gets to pick the replacement to serve until the next general election, usually about two years.
The process is only slightly more democratic in the four of those states that require the governor to chose a replacement from the same party as the departed senator.
Senators ” like Secretary Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and Colorado’s Ken Salazar, now secretary of the interior ” most often leave their seats to accept higher offices in Cabinets and incoming administrations, and thus raise their own profiles. Voters, meanwhile, are left behind to wait for their governors to, at best, flex some political muscle in filling the seat.
But there are movements afoot in Colorado and a handful of other states to require special elections after senators abdicate. These bills would take the lofty power of appointment away from governors and give it back to the voters who are entitled to it.
Elections are costly and also vulnerable to fraud but maintaining the integrity of our democracy ” particularly in light of the allegations that former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to sell President Obama’s vacated seat ” is worth the expense and the much slighter risk the process will be corrupted.
We give our governors great power ” we elect them to manage our states, make laws and set budgets, but we do not give them a proxy to choose our other elected leaders.
Vail Daily Editorial Board