Our View: The 12th won’t have a voice

Jan. 14, 2014 @ 08:07 PM

Gov. Pat McCrory last week decided to set a special election to fill the 12th Congressional District seat formerly held by Mel Watt on May 6 and Nov. 4 — the same dates as this year’s primary and general elections.
The governor said his decision was based on the cost of holding the special election at other times, the time required for setting up the special election, confusion for voters and other issues.
What the governor didn’t factor into his decision, apparently, is the fact that the 600,000-plus residents of the 12th District won’t have a representative in Congress from now until after Nov. 4. That’s at least 10 months. ... That just isn’t right.
Longtime 12th District Rep. Mel Watt resigned his seat last week to become head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. So now, residents of the 12th District, which stretches from Charlotte through High Point to Greensboro, don’t have a voice in Congress.
We appreciate the governor’s concerns about the costs of holding a special election, not creating voter confusion and its scheduling, which was impacted somewhat by the timing of Watt’s resignation. Yes, maybe there’s some rationale in the decision.
But it is a fundamental right of Americans to have a voice in Congress — remember no taxation without representation? And going nearly a year without that voice for hundreds of thousands of residents just isn’t right.
The governor should have gotten the special election process moving earlier. Yes, an earlier primary for the special election, say in March, would have cost taxpayer dollars. But perhaps a possible runoff primary and the special election itself then could have been set on already scheduled election dates.
The bottom line here is having congressional representation, and the 12th District won’t until at least Nov. 4. ... That just isn’t right.