91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How do you fill a vacant seat in Congress?


The attorney for Congressman John Conyers held a news conference this afternoon to try to discredit one of the women who was accusing Congressman Conyers of sexual harassment.

The attorney indicates Conyers will not resign, but this issue is not going away.

Democratic leaders in Congress are still calling for his resignation, so if he’s pressured further or if he’s forced out through expulsion, which is very rare, who would represent Michigan’s 13th District?

Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s Lansing bureau chief, joined Stateside today to explain the process.

Listen to the conversation above, or read the transcript below.

LESTER GRAHAM: So Rick, what happens if there’s a vacancy?

RICK PLUTA: In the event of a vacancy, the governor would call a special election to fill out the balance of the term, which would run until the end of 2018.

GRAHAM: So there would be no representation until that special election?

PLUTA: There would be no representation… the seat would be vacant until the election is held and certified. And, you know, it’s not something that, you know, you can just do in a couple of weeks.

GRAHAM: So how long would that take to arrange?

PLUTA: Well, we don’t know for sure. There’s nothing that determines, you know, in statute that says when the governor has to do it, although commonly it would be held in conjunction with other elections. And there are three official election dates on the calendar next year. And so the governor would have to make a decision on whether or not he’d want … to hold it like in the spring or maybe sooner.

And then there are also just, there are practical aspects of elections that need to be taken into consideration – that, to run for Congress, any of the perspective candidates would have to gather 1,000 petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. So you’ve got to have time for that.

GRAHAM: And that’s, that’s been troublesome for Congressman Conyers in the past.

PLUTA: Among others – it seems to be a thing here in Michigan. So there’s that. Plus, you’ve got to leave enough time, you know, which is really a couple of months, to make sure that ballots get out in time to military personnel and other Michigan voters who are living overseas so that they can get their ballots, fill them out, and return them. And so there’s that. So we’re looking at, like, a couple of months at the earliest.

GRAHAM: And then, somebody goes in, they’re in for a few months, because we’ll have elections in 2018.

PLUTA: Yes, that person will serve, in all likelihood, less than a year before they have to seek reelection, presuming they want to seek reelection. And, of course, the election to look at in this congressional district – it’s the most Democratic congressional district in Michigan, and so that means that the Democratic primary will determine, really, who holds the job. 

(Subscribe to the Stateside podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or with this RSS link)

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
Related Content