Why are we having an election for one candidate?

Dec. 5, 2012

On Tuesday, all registered voters living within the boundaries of Wisconsin state senate district 33 were invited to cast a ballot in a special election to fill their state senate seat, which is currently vacant. The seat had previously been occupied by Rich Zipperer, who left his position on Aug. 5 to become Governor Walker's deputy chief of staff and senior counsel.

During the November presidential election, there was a Republican primary to nominate a candidate for the special election. Paul Farrow won the primary, so his name will be on today's ballot. Because no other candidates filed to run in the special election, Farrow's name will be the only one on the ballot.

So why do we have to hold an election for a race with only one candidate? To some, it seems like a waste of time and money.

For one thing, holding the election makes it possible for a write-in candidate to win, however unlikely that may seem. But the official reason we're having an election is that Governor Walker ordered that a special election be held to fill the vacancy, and there are no provisions in state law for canceling an election once one has been ordered, according to Reid Magney of the state's Government Accountability Board.

What do you want to know? Email your questions to now.you.know@me.com.


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