If a seat in Congress becomes vacant in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott must call a special election, but the law does not specify a timetable.
Florida law mandates that a special election "shall be held" in four specific instances, one of which is "if a vacancy occurs in the office of member from Florida of the House of Representatives of Congress."
By law, Scott must set the date of the special election in consultation with Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state's chief elections official. Scott's order would set dates for a special primary and a special election as well as a deadline for candidates seeking to qualify by collecting voters' signatures on petitions rather than paying a filing fee. But because this is a federal race, federal election laws will dictate the deadlines for reporting campaign contributions and expenses.
By law, a period of at least two weeks must separate the primary and general election.
The state is responsible for paying for the counties' costs of holding a special election.
The last time a Florida congressional seat became vacant in the middle of a term was in October of 2009. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Boca Raton Democrat, resigned in the middle of his term to take a position with a nonprofit institute that promotes peace and economic cooperation in the Middle East. Wexler announced his resignation in October 2009 but made it effective on Jan. 3, 2010.
Then-Gov. Charlie Crist set the primary election for Feb. 2 and the general election for April 6, but later changed the general election date to April 13 so it would not conflict with the Jewish holiday of Passover. The special election was won by Democrat Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, who still holds the seat. The voters in the district, in Palm Beach and Broward counties, had no representative for about four months.