Saturday, November 28, 2020

Georgia in limbo

Not the presidential election, which has been decided. The senatorial. And not just because the runoffs have yet to be held. There's a tiny legal glitch in this election which I haven't seen discussed, and I wonder how it's to be dealt with. I'm a Senate-terms nerd, and this concerns me.

This doesn't apply to Loeffler's seat. She's an interim appointee, and will hold the seat until her elected successor for the two remaining years in the term, whether it be herself or her opponent, is elected.

It's Perdue's. His seat is up in the normal course, and that means his term expires at noon on January 3. But the runoff isn't until January 5. What happens in the interim?

January 3 is a Sunday, so the new Congress will meet presumably on January 4, at which point, as it works normally, the senators sworn in will have their service dates backdated to the 3rd. But they're all uncontested and their elections will be already certified. Perdue will be without a seat until and unless he's re-elected on the 5th, and if the election is close it may take several days to confirm that.

So what happens? Does this count as a vacancy that the governor can fill? That would be subject to Georgia law. If so, he could appoint Perdue and hope he gets re-elected. In which case his service would be continuous.

Or, without the interim appointment, could Perdue's service date - or Ossoff's, should he win - be backdated to the 3rd? I don't think that would fit Senate rules, since backdating traditionally requires uncontested right to the seat.

Or, if Perdue wins, would there be a tiny gap in his service, and would that affect his seniority?

I haven't seen any of this discussed or explained.

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