60 years of legislative resignations

As part of my story this weekend on legislative resignations, the Legislative Research Council provided me with a spreadsheet of every legislator who’s resigned since at least 1957.

You can view that spreadsheet here.

Here’s the breakdown by governor:

My research also dug up a document from the National Conference of State Legislatures, outlining how every single state handles legislative vacancies. To my surprise, South Dakota’s method (the governor appoints whoever he or she wants, with no restrictions) is very rare. I expected it to be the norm, or at least very common, but only Nebraska and Vermont join South Dakota in having this method.

In fact, only 11 states altogether let the governor pick. The other eight gubernatorial appointment states require the governor to pick a lawmaker of the same political party as the prior occupant of the spot, or force the governor to pick from a list of names provided by that person’s party (sometimes even a list one).

A full 25 states have special elections for every single legislative opening. In five states the political party appoints the lawmaker. In Ohio the appointment is made by the legislative caucus of the same house and party as the departed lawmaker. The Tennessee Legislature as a whole appoints new members. And most confusingly to me, in seven states lawmakers are appointed by boards of county commissioners. (Unless in those states legislative districts are synonymous with counties.)

If South Dakota were writing a new constitution, what would be the best provision to insert to handle legislative appointments?

Here’s the full NCSL document: