Since January 2019, 60 state legislative vacancies have been created. Thirty-seven of those vacancies have been filled through appointments or special elections. In the 23 vacancies still left to be filled, three will be filled through appointments and 20 will be filled through special elections.
Before the vacancies were created, Democrats controlled 32 of the seats and Republicans controlled the other 28. In the 37 vacancies that have been filled so far, Democrats took 21 seats, Republicans took 15 seats, and an independent took one seat. So far in 2019, six state legislative seats have changed partisan control in special elections. Four seats flipped from Democrat to Republican, one seat flipped from Republican to Democrat, and one seat flipped from Republican to independent.
The process for filling vacancies varies among the states. Twenty-five states fill state legislative vacancies through special elections, 22 states fill vacancies through appointments, and three states fill vacancies through a hybrid system that uses both appointments and special elections. The most common reasons for a state legislative vacancy include officeholders resigning, dying, leaving for a new job, being elected or appointed to a different office, or receiving a legal conviction.
Ballotpedia completes a count of the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. March’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators shows 52 percent of all state legislators are Republicans and 47 percent are Democrats. Republicans held 3,861 of the 7,383 state legislative seats in the country—1,082 state Senate seats and 2,779 state House seats. Democrats held 3,462 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—877 state Senate seats and 2,585 state House seats. Independent or third-party legislators held 32 seats, and 28 seats were vacant.