Over the past year, Capitol observers have witnessed vacancies in state legislative offices. What is the process for filling vacancies in the California Legislature?
First, in Article IV, Section 2 (d) of the California Constitution, it states that, “When a vacancy occurs in the Legislative Assembly, the Governor immediately calls an election to fill the vacancy. As a result, a legislative vacancy is only filled by the electorate in a special election. Readers may recall that vacancies in constitutional office are filled by appointment to the post of governor, with legislative confirmation.
How is the term “call immediately” defined? It is not defined in the state constitution, but a state law specifies 14 calendar days.
Second, details are provided in Section 1773 of the Government Code and apply to vacancies in the Legislature or Representative of Congress (not the US Senate). Pursuant to section 1773, when a vacancy occurs in either chamber of the Legislative Assembly, the Governor shall, within 14 calendar days of the occurrence of the vacancy, issue a writ of election. to fill the vacancy.
There is one exception to this rule. When a vacancy occurs in a legislative office after the close of the nomination period in the last year of the mandate, no special election is held and the office remains vacant until the scheduled regular election.
Once the governor has issued a writ of election, a special election is held and the vacant seat in the Senate or State Assembly is filled by the voters of that Assembly or senatorial constituency.