The League of Women Voters supports H.B. 381, as we did the virtually identical, now-deferred H.B. 304. We believe the bill reflects the expectations of voters of our state in regard to the appointments and elections of replacements to fill the unexpired terms of both federal and state elected officials of our legislative branches who are unable to complete their terms in office.
This bill allows the political parties to have a say in who would be suitable replacements for elected officials who belong to their respective parties. It allows the districts continued representation by someone with similar political views as the prior incumbent, and, we hope, gives people in the district the opportunity the opportunity to voice their opinions to party leaders. The bill also removes some of the opportunities that now exist to circumvent what even the present statutes we're sure intended to have happen.
That the U.S. Senate is today one senator away from a shift in the balance of power is drama enough. The fact that the shift depends on the survival of the incumbent from an illness because of a law in South Dakota that allows the governor to pick someone from a different party as his replacement should that become necessary, somehow smacks of the beginning of a melodrama.
What happens to voters' choice? We believe that no matter how it is done, short of a new election, replacements of incumbents should reflect as closely as possible the wishes of the voters who placed the incumbent in office in the first place.
We urge passage of H.B. 381. Thank you for the opportunity to support it.