September 19, 2023

Voter advocates say Hoosiers 'short-changed' by legislative resignations

Article origination IPB News
Four Indiana state lawmakers have resigned this year, leaving office less than a year after being reelected.  - Brandon Smith/IPB News

Four Indiana state lawmakers have resigned this year, leaving office less than a year after being reelected.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

Some Indiana voter advocates say Hoosiers are “short-changed” when lawmakers resign in the middle of their terms.

Four legislators have stepped down this year, including two state senators who left office less than a year into their four-year terms.

Julia Vaughn, Common Cause Indiana executive director, said it’s particularly frustrating when lawmakers leave less than a year after being reelected.

"These are not folks who were new to the legislature, who weren’t familiar with the demands that the office has," Vaughn said. "These were experienced legislators, so I really wish they had thought longer and better and more into the future."

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Under state law, lawmakers who leave their seats early are replaced by private, partisan caucuses. Vaughn said it shouldn’t be party insiders who get to choose. She wants to see special elections.

“One of the arguments that has been made against having special elections in these cases is the expense,” Vaughn said. “So perhaps, as a deterrent, we could require the retiring legislator to chip in for the cost of a special election.”

Vaughn acknowledged that’s extremely unlikely, but said lawmakers should find a way for voters to have more of a say in replacing legislators who step down.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Copyright 2023 IPB News. To see more, visit IPB News.

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