Jefferson City, MO – Thursday Missouri voters from each of the four state legislative districts with vacancies filed a lawsuit asking the Cole County Court to order Governor Jeremiah Nixon to call special elections in all four districts.
According to the Missouri Constitution’s Article III Section 14, Governor Nixon has the sole responsibility to issue writs of election to fill vacancies in the General Assembly. State statue (RSMo § 21.110) requires the governor to issue “writs of election” to fill such vacancies “without delay”, once he is notified of the vacancy. The lawsuit contends that the governor has been derelict in that duty, and has thus violated the law, affecting nearly 300,000 citizens.
Although two of the vacant legislative seats were vacated only two weeks ago and a third on December 2nd, the fourth seat, the 120th district of the House of Representatives, has been vacant since Representative Jason Smith was elected to the U.S. Congress nearly seven months ago.
Voters from the 120th district have been pleading with the governor to call a special election for months, but he has taken no action. The parties to the lawsuit from the other three districts are concerned that without a court order they will suffer a similar fate.
If run concurrently with the April 8 municipal elections, special elections would result in very little additional cost to the state. A deadline for the municipal elections looms just two weeks away, prompting the voters to act now.
The lawsuit argues that the right to representation in the legislature is a fundamental liberty. An April election will at least give them representation in the critical final month of the 2014 legislative session, as well as the veto override and any special sessions that might be called. They will also benefit from other constituent services that they would otherwise be deprived of.
Copies of the petition to the court and arguments supporting the petition can be found here:
Questions about the case can be directed to the following spokesman for the parties bringing the action: