OPINION: It's legal for Doug Ducey to appoint Martha McSally, but we can change that
About a month after Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won the race for Senate against Martha McSally, another seat will pop up. Jon Kyl, the former Arizona Senator who was appointed to late Senator John McCain’s seat, will step down from the position in January, leaving the seat vacant. Gov. Doug Ducey must now fill this seat, and McSally seems to be the front runner for the job.
Now, Ducey's appointment of McSally seems unfair, and many people feel the vacant seat should be put up to a vote. The 2013 Arizona Revised Statutes Title 16 - Elections and Electors begs to differ.
The text states, “For a vacancy in the office of United States senator, the governor shall appoint a person to fill the vacancy. That appointee shall be of the same political party as the person vacating the office and shall serve until the person elected at the next general election is qualified and assumes office. If the person vacating the office changed political party affiliations after taking office, the person who is appointed to fill the vacancy shall be of the same political party that the vacating officeholder was when the vacating officeholder was elected or appointed to that office."
Whoever is appointed to the vacant seat will end up in the position until 2020. Then, the Arizona people will get to choose who finishes McCain's term, which ends in 2022.
I do not personally agree with this amendment of the state constitution. If you read Article IV, which originally dealt with vacancies, it states the appointing body must ensure “political balance and fairness.” I, a believer in democracy, do not believe Government officials having the ability to appoint senators ensures political fairness. For those of you who hold the same belief as me in this situation, you must remember this rule is not set in stone.
Arizonans have the ability to amend the constitution. Article XXI of the Arizona Constitution is broken into two sections, and it goes over the many ways the constitution can be amended in Arizona. Of course you can write a letter to members of Arizona State Legislature hoping they might actually read your concerns, but the most effective method still remains by way of an initiated constitutional amendment.
Initiated constitutional amendments are placed on the ballot if an initiative petition is signed by a number of qualified electors, Arizona residents who are capable of being registered voters, that equals to 15 percent of votes cast for all candidates in the last gubernatorial election. About 2,357,700 people voted in the 2018 Arizona gubernatorial election, according to Ballotpedia, meaning 353,655 signatures would be needed to get the amendment placed on the ballot in 2020.
If you believe it is unfair McSally may be receiving the Senate seat because a Republican must be appointed to the seat by governor, maybe a petition should be started so we no longer have to worry about a similar situation in the future. A good amount of Arizonans should agree a special election is the best way to fill a vacant seat, as it allows all voices to be heard.
Now, I do not want McSally as Senator, but we Arizonans have made our bed and must sleep in it at least once more. Though it may be possible McSally does not turn out to be a “yes woman” to Trump and the GOP, her voting record speaks against this being the case. In the mean time, Arizonans can bring this article of the State Constitution to center stage. If we pull together as citizens of Arizona, perhaps we will be voting to discard this rule in the 2020 election.
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