Washington Vacancies in Office, HJR 4206 (2003)

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Amendments
The Washington Vacancies in Office Amendment, also known as HJR 4206, was on the November 4, 2003 ballot in the Washington as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure permitted newly-elected officers to take office early if the office falls vacant after the general election and the newly-elected officer is of the same political party as the former officer.

Election results

Washington HJR 4206 (2003)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,008,710 82.92%
No207,72017.08%

Election results via the Washington Secretary of State.[1]

Text of the measure

See also: Washington State Constitution, Article II, Section 15

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on filling vacancies in legislative and partisan county elective offices.

This amendment would permit newly-elected officers to take office early if the office falls vacant after the general election and the newly-elected officer is of the same political party as the former officer.

Should this constitutional amendment be approved or rejected?[3]

Support

Arguments in favor

These arguments in support appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[4]

There is currently a gap in the law that deals with vacancies in office for county and legislative positions. This amendment would fill that gap with a more efficient process allowing the will of the people to be put into place sooner and providing continuous representation.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A VACANCY OCCURS AFTER A GENERAL ELECTION, BUT BEFORE THE NEW TERM BEGINS?

If an incumbent leaves office after the general election, and prior to the end of their term, a vacancy is created. Voters are left without representation during this period. If the new, duly elected official is of the same party as the incumbent, they should be able to take office immediately to provide representation.

WHAT THIS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT DOES

If such a vacancy occurred, this amendment would allow a newly-elected official to take office immediately upon certification of the election, if they are from the same political party as the outgoing incumbent. Current law would apply if the new official were of a different party.

WHY THIS CHANGE IS NEEDED

These changes apply to rare, but important circumstances. An incumbent may vacate the position, before the end of their term and after a general election, for a number of reasons including illness or death. If there were a newly-elected official of the same party ready to take office, constituents would be better served, and represented[3]

Opposition

These arguments in opposition appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[5]

State law requires that the argument and rebuttal statement against a constitutional amendment be written by one or more members of the state Legislature who voted against that proposed measure on final passage or, in the event that no such member of the Legislature consents to prepare the statement, by any other responsible individual or individuals to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the State Senate, and the Secretary of State. No legislator who voted against House Joint Resolution 4206 or other individual opposing the measure consented to write an argument against the measure for publication in this pamphlet.[3]

Similar measures

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