Retirements and deaths in Congress have spurred over 120 special elections over the past 20 years, low-turnout contests that cost the taxpayers millions.

Over 120 members of Congress have died or left their positions early in the past 20 years.
Deaths and resignations have spurred a steady churn of costly and low-turnout special elections.
Special elections have become confusing, chaotic messes, bleeding taxpayers and exhausting voters.
Read more from Insider’s “Red, White, and Gray” series.

The 25-term Rep. Don Young of Alaska would leave Congress by one of only two routes.

First: Alaskan voters ending his career.

“The only time I’ll retire is when people want to retire me. The people decide I can’t serve them any more, they’ll get rid of me,” Young, a Republican, told the Anchorage Daily News in 2014.

Second: death.

In March, Young died at 88 while flying to the state he served on Capitol Hill for nearly half a century — most of its existence as a state.

Young’s death triggered an unprecedented series of three statewide votes — a special primary, a special general election held along with a regular primary, and a regular general election — within five months.

It also forced election officials to implement Alaska’s new voting system ahead of schedule. It consists of a top-four primary, where candidates of all parties run on the same primary ballot, and a ranked-choice general election. With ranked choice, voters order the candidates on the ballot in order of preference, and the candidates’ votes are redistributed up to the top until one earns over 50% of the vote.

Voters — confused or not — ultimately elected Mary Peltola, a Democrat, out of a 48-candidate field that included everyone from the 2008 vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin to Santa Claus, a socialist City Council member in the city of North Pole.

The Alaska special election is just one of the more than 120 congressional special elections conducted over the past two decades, an Insider analysis found.

While special elections sometimes open unexpected doors for new candidates like now-Sen. Jon Ossoff in Georgia and Rep. Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, they’re expensive, have low turnout, and are sometimes chaotic affairs that bleed taxpayers, confuse and exhaust voters, and, in many cases, can be avoided if lawmakers choose to step aside earlier.

Insider found that 55 of the special elections from the past two decades, 45%, were prompted by a Congress member resigning before the …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

Special elections are confusing, chaotic messes that bleed taxpayers — and could often be avoided if politicians quit before leveling up, flaming out, or dropping dead

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