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Governor required to call special election to fill 11th Congressional District vacancy


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In accordance with state law and the U.S. Constitution, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley today called a special election in the 11th Congressional District to fill the vacancy created by last week's sudden resignation of U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter.

The lieutenant governor's strong preference is to save local tax dollars and spare election officials a significant burden by conducting the special primary election in conjunction with the regularly scheduled Aug. 7 primary. However, the timing of McCotter's resignation makes that impossible. Primary ballots already were printed and absentee ballots were mailed when McCotter made his announcement. In addition, ballots must be sent to Michigan voters who are overseas or serving in the military at least 45 days before an election, which means the special primary election must be held on a different date than Aug. 7.

"It is extremely disappointing that the district is forced to have a special election that is neither cost-effective nor efficient," Calley said. "Taxpayers deserve better. But the requirement for the governor to call a special election in this situation is clear and we must do so in a way that establishes fair, realistic deadlines for candidates and election officials. We will move forward so that district residents have full representation in Congress for the remainder of the term. I have every confidence that the outstanding election officials throughout the district will get the job done in spite of this challenging timeline."

The special primary will be Wednesday, Sept. 5. That still allows for the special general election to fill the vacancy to be held in conjunction with the regularly scheduled Nov. 6 general election.
State election officials estimate the cost of the special election to total $650,000 for the impacted local and county governments.

Calley cited Michigan election law, which states that the governor "shall" call a special election in this circumstance, as well as Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which contains similar language requiring a special election as the reason for his decision.

By issuing the call for a special election today, the governor's action allows candidates adequate time to collect the required 1,000 petition signatures for ballot access by Friday, July 20. This in turn allows local officials to print special ballots to send to military and overseas voters 45 days before the Sept. 5 special election.

The 11th Congressional District is comprised of portions of Wayne and Oakland counties.
On Nov. 6, some district voters will see the 11th Congressional race listed twice on their ballot. Voters will decide which candidate serves the remainder of McCotter's term, which expires in January 2013. They also decide which candidate wins the full two-year term that begins in January 2013.

Article V, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution gives authority to the lieutenant governor when the governor is outside the state.