Voters, Not Governors, Should
Select Senators Says Begich
Endorses Constitutional Amendment
Changing Appointment Process
March 12, 2009
U.S. senators should be elected by voters in the 50 states rather
than appointed by governors, said Alaska Sen. Mark Begich in
testimony before a joint House-Senate hearing Wednesday on a
constitutional amendment would end the gubernatorial appointment
In testimony before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary Constitution
Subcommittee and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Begich cited Alaska's experience
when it elected a new congressman to replace his father who died
while campaigning for re-election in 1972.
U.S. Rep. Nick Begich was killed in October 1972 when his plane
crashed somewhere between Anchorage and Juneau. Alaskans selected
his replacement in a special election in March 1973, rather than
appointing a successor.
"Alaskans then - like
Alaskans now - feel strongly that their elected representatives
in the federal government should be exactly that elected,"
Begich said. "The residents of my state believe that they
alone have the power to select those who represent them in the
United States House and Senate."
Begich also cited Alaskans' strong support for an electoral process
in 2004 when they approved a statewide ballot initiative revoking
the power for Alaska's governor to appoint a senator in the event
of a vacancy. This initiative passed with nearly 56% of the vote.
"When balancing the relatively modest cost of a special
election against one of the most fundamental principles of our
democracy the election of representatives of the people
- I believe the expense is certainly justified," Begich
said. "And as recent examples have shown us with drawn-out
and controversial appointment scenarios, I believe the time required
to mount a special election is far preferable to a gubernatorial
For passage, the constitutional
amendment needs two-thirds approval from the U.S. House and Senate.
Following that approval the amendment would then be sent to the
states. Three-fourths of state legislatures would need to ratify
the proposal, following its approval from the U.S. House and
Senate, in order for the amendment to be adopted.
In the last two years, six senators have been appointed to fill
an empty seat through the process of gubernatorial appointment.
Source of News:
Office of U.S. Senator Mark
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