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Frank Lautenberg

The people's representatives should be elected

The people's representatives should be elected

Members of Congress don't always complete their terms due to factors like death, a new job and scandal. When a House seat becomes vacant, the Constitution requires an election to fill it, and every House member has been elected. The 17th amendment established direct election of Senators as well, but left one gap: how to fill an early vacancy. Today, 36 states, including Maryland, let governors fill Senate vacancies by appointment rather than special election — meaning voters get no say in choosing their new representative.

Several states — including Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut — have been slowly filling this constitutional hole since 2009 by...