14 February 2012
Following the resignation of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona was faced with a unique situation in holding elections to replace the former Congresswoman. First, the timing of the resignation creates a situation where a Special Election will be held this spring in Arizona's 8th Congressional District to serve the remainder of Rep. Giffords' term. With the Special Primary Election being scheduled for April 17 and the Special General Election scheduled for June 12, the winner of the general election will only hold the office for a short amount of time before the November 2012 elections occur.
In addition, Arizona's Congressional redistricting also creates some unique circumstances in regards to this special election. Arizona gained a new Congressional district based on the 2010 Census data, which necessitates changes to the previously existing districts in terms of district boundaries and numbers. Arizonans removed redistricting powers from the State Legislature in 2000 and placed the task in the hands of an independent commission. The 9 districts drawn up by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission have now been sent to the US Justice Department for approval (because of past voter discrimination problems in the state). Should those 9 districts be approved, the winner of the CD-8 Special Election would be faced with the possibility & challenge of running for the renumbered 2nd district that covers most of the current 8th district's territory. The Independent Redistricting Commission has not operated without controversy though, and recent moves by the Arizona State Legislature might ask citizens to change the redistricting process once again and either adjust it or revert the process to what it was prior to 2000.
Several state legislators and other well known names in the district have announced that they will run in either the special election this spring or in the newly redistricted elections in the fall. Arizona's Secretary of State currently reports that Candidate Nomination Petitions are due on February 27. Stay tuned to Project Vote Smart's elections page as our coverage of the Arizona Special Election continues to escalate.
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