Danny's Desk: News from the Virginia General Assembly
Jan 31, 2017

Filling a Vacancy: 

What happens when a Virginia Delegate or Senator leaves office during his or her term? There is a special election where voters choose a new representative.

During the past few months we have had one member of the State Senate pass away and 2 members of the Senate elected to Congress, leaving vacancies. We have also had 3 members of the House of Delegates elected to the State Senate, leaving House vacancies. All positions were filled through special elections with several being grouped on the same day. There is one more special election coming up next week.

At the federal level, if a U.S. Congressman cannot complete his term, there is also a special election. The significance of this information is that whenever there is a special election, citizens decide who will represent them.

However, a different procedure is in place if a U.S. Senator from Virginia cannot complete his or her term, which is 6 years, the longest elected term for a representative. In this incidence, the Governor appoints a successor. The successor serves until the next general statewide election.

There have been 12 times since 1790 that a U.S. Senator for Virginia has not completed his term and a Governor has stepped in to appoint a new Senator. Twelve times one person, rather than the citizens, chose a Senator to represent all of Virginia. It has happened with multiple parties, so this is not a partisan issue. Current procedure allows the Governor to appoint an interim Senator from the same political party of the Senator who is not completing his term. The party submits 3 names to the Governor.

Since we have only 2 U.S. Senators representing each state, this is a position of great responsibility and power. The Senatorial votes in Washington have significant influence over Federal issues for our country.

I introduced HB 1696 to address this issue. My bill has passed the House and is headed for the State Senate. Rather than an interim appointment, my bill calls for the Governor to issue a writ to call an election for citizens to vote for a new U.S. Senator.

I believe the citizens of Virginia should always have the voice to decide who will represent them.

If you live in my 14th District, I invite you to take our 2017 Survey on line. Visit www.dannymarshall.com  Look at the bottom right of the homepage to access the survey. You will need to provide your address for constituent verification.

As we consider the legislation before us, I want to know your views about the issues. You can access Virginia legislation on the General Assembly website at: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/

Our offices are located in Room 702 of the General Assembly Building.  If you can come to visit us in Richmond, please let us know ahead of time. You can contact us by sending an e-mail to DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov or by sending a letter to me at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218-0406, or by calling 804-698-1014.