To be elected for any office, there are certain requirements. For the Oval Office, being a natural-born citizen, and at least 35 are requirements. For most congressional offices, being 24 years of age is a must. One is also expected to be in fairly good health, at least mentally, so that you are “fit” to do the job at hand.
Now, on that latter part, we’ve seen a few elections of late where that doesn’t seem to be the case. Take Biden’s presidential win in 2020 or Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman’s for US Senate this month, for example.
Then again, apparently, not being alive doesn’t even seem to matter to some anymore.
Yes, you read that correctly. In not one but two states, democratic candidates who are dead were elected as US Representatives this year.
One is longtime Dem Representative Tony DeLuca of Pennsylvania. On Election Day, he won a whopping 86 percent of the vote over his Green Party contender. But as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, DeLuca died on October 9, at the ripe old age of 85. His opposition won a mere 14.4 percent of the vote.
A very similar situation happened in Tennessee, where another longtime Democratic representative, Barbara Cooper, died on October 25, a mere two weeks from Election Day. She was 93 years old. Yet, according to The Tennessean, she won more than 73.1 percent of the vote against her independent challenger Michael Porter, who gained only 26.9 percent.
Now, to be clear, I’m unsure if anything could have been done to change the outcome of either of these elections.
By the time both of these lawmakers passed, the ballots were pretty much set in stone, with little to no time to change them. Of course, there was also little to no time for a suitable replacement for either on the ballot to be chosen.
This is made even more difficult by the existence of early voting in both states, which began weeks before Election day, and in the case of DeLuca, before he had actually died even. Besides, it’s likely that even by the time November 8 rolled around, most constituents didn’t even know about either’s passing.
There is also the fact that given both candidates’ opposition, the people likely voted for what would still be a better option. In DeLuca’s case, had the people voted in his Green Party contender, they might as well have chosen a hammer and sickle.
Thankfully, that wasn’t what happened.
Instead, special elections will be held in both states for the districts left without a representative at present. This will hopefully open up a more diverse candidate pool, as well.
However, there is something to definitely be said about the fact that not one but two dead Democrats got elected into office this month, and one in a deep red state.
No, it doesn’t say anything bad about either candidate. In fact, if anything, it shows just how well-liked they were, that they could still be so beloved and preferred even in their old age and even after death.
The only problem, I guess, lies then in the election process. And quite possibly in the age requirements of such representatives.
For the former, much of their win could have come down to early voting, as in both cases, candidates were still alive when it began. Now, early voting can be a huge plus. But in this situation, as well as John Fetterman’s race for Senate, there’s no way for voters to change their minds once or make a different choice should say a candidate clearly loses his mind during a debate or even dies.
For the latter, there’s an argument for term limits like never before.
Had there been a limit in age, say 65, when most other industries and careers deem it acceptable to retire, then neither of these unfilled races would have even occurred. We also wouldn’t be stuck with lawmakers who are slowly losing it due to the natural aging process, such as with Biden and now Fetterman.
Perhaps this next Congress will do something about both.