Special Elections Demanded in Missouri

     JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - A judge took no immediate action in a lawsuit asking Gov. Jay Nixon to hold special elections to fill four empty seats in the Missouri Legislature.
     Ten residents filed the lawsuit on Jan. 2, and four of them attended a hearing Monday in Cole County Court, in the state capital.
     Three of the empty seats are in the state House and one in the Senate.
     Under the Missouri Constitution, when such a vacancy occurs, the governor "shall, without delay, issue a writ of election."
     One House seat has been vacant for more than 6 months. If the election is delayed until the November general election, residents in the 120th District will have gone more than 16 months without representation, said David Roland, attorney for the plaintiffs.
     Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green asked both parties to agree on a schedule for submission of written testimony.
     Roland said the lack of action was not acceptable.
     "Every Missourian should be up in arms," Roland told the Post-Dispatch. "When a governor can disregard his constitutional obligations in this way, it discredits the entire concept of the rule of law."
     Roland told the Post-Dispatch that he fears further delay could mean the court would run out of time and say a special election would make no difference.