Monday, November 12, 2012

Procedure for Expedited Election to Replace Sen. Gallegos

Sen. Gallegos passed away last month, but his name remained on the ballot because the deadline to remove it had passed.  The Senator was posthumously reelected on November 6 receiving 70.94% of the vote to 29.05% for Republican nominee R. W. Bray.  Under Texas law, the votes cast for Sen. Gallegos count and a vacancy in Senate District 6 (SD 6) occurs when the votes are canvassed.  Texas Election Code Sec. 145.005.  All Sec. references hereafter are to the Texas Election Code unless otherwise noted.

Gov. Perry must conduct the state canvas for the November 6 election no earlier than November 21 and no later than December 6.  Sec. 67.012.  After the canvas, Gov. Perry must call a special election within 20 days to fill the vacancy in SD 6.  Texas Constitution Article III, Section 13.

Because the vacancy occurs within 60 days of the convening of the 83rd Legislature, the special election is an expedited election.  Sec. 203.013.  An expedited election must be held on a Tuesday or Saturday between 21 and 45 days after the date the election is ordered.  The Texas Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act does not apply to this election.  Sec. 101.104.

Candidates will all be listed on the same ballot, although they will have a D or an R after their name.  The canvas of the special election results occurs between 8 and 11 days after the election.  Sec. 67.003.  If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the special election, the Governor orders a runoff election.  Sec. 3.003.  The runoff election must be held within 25 days of the Governor’s ordering the election on a Tuesday or Saturday.  Sec. 203.013.

Already announced candidates for the SD 6 special election include Rep. Carol Alvarado, Mr. R. W. Bray and Comm. Sylvia Garcia.  Col. Rick Noriega is also contemplating the race, and I ultimately expect 5 or more candidates on the ballot.  A runoff is a virtual certainty.  The following is my calculation of the earliest and the latest date for this decisive runoff.

Earliest scenario:  If the canvas occurs November 21 and the Governor issues a writ of election the same day, the special election could be held Saturday, December 15.  The local canvas could occur December 26, and the runoff election could be set for January 8.

Latest scenario:  If the canvas occurs December 6, the Governor could issue the writ of election on December 26.  The election could be called for February 5.  If the local canvas then occurs February 15, the Governor could wait until March 6 to order a March 30 runoff election.

Summary:  The SD 6 special election could occur as soon as December 15 or as late as February 5.  The runoff could occur as soon as January 8 or as late as March 30.