The news that a Kansas legislator is resigning mid-term for health reasons presents a good opportunity to think about the process that Kansas uses to fill legislative vacancies. This is probably not an enthralling topic to most, but it matters because that process is a rotten anachronism that unnecessarily mutes average voters.
When Kansas legislators leave before their terms are completed, local precinct chairs from the same party as that politician choose their replacement. The governor approves their choice as a formality. This happens fairly frequently. Nearly a fifth of legislators in the 2017-2018 session, for example, originally entered the legislature by appointment.
Only three states use this same process. Most others fill vacancies via special elections, though others also use appointments of some type.
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