RS 18:602     

§602.  Vacancies in certain local and municipal offices; exceptions

A.  When a vacancy occurs in the office of a member of a parish or municipal governing authority or a combination thereof, a mayor, or any other local or municipal office, except an office covered by Subsections B and C of this Section and except the office of judge, state legislator, or marshal of a city or municipal court, and the office is filled by election wholly within the boundaries of a local governmental subdivision, the governing authority of the local governmental subdivision where the vacancy occurs shall within twenty days appoint a person to fill the vacancy who meets the qualifications of the office.  However, if the deadline for making the appointment falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or other legal holiday, then the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday shall be deemed to be the final day for making such appointment.  The presiding officer of the governing authority shall not be required to vote on such an appointment to be made by the governing authority of a local governmental subdivision unless a tie vote occurs thereon, in which case he shall vote to break the tie; however, in no case shall the presiding officer vote more than once on the appointment.

B.  When a vacancy occurs in the membership of a city or parish school board, the remaining members of the board shall within twenty days declare that the vacancy has occurred and proceed to appoint a person who meets the qualifications of the office to fill the vacancy.  However, if the deadline for making the appointment falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or other legal holiday, then the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday shall be deemed to be the final day for making such appointment.  For the purposes of this Subsection, in addition to the definition of "vacancy" provided in R.S. 18:581, a "vacancy" in a city or parish school board office shall be deemed to have occurred when, in the case of a city school board, a member's residence no longer lies within the jurisdiction of the board or when, in the case of a parish school board, a member changes his domicile from the district he represents or, if elected after reapportionment, is domiciled outside the district he represents at the time he is sworn into office, any declaration of retention of domicile to the contrary notwithstanding.

C.(1)  When a vacancy occurs in any of the following offices, the duties of the office shall be assumed by the person hereinafter designated: (a) district attorney, by the first assistant; (b) clerk of a district court, by the chief deputy; (c) coroner, by the chief deputy; (d) sheriff, by the chief criminal deputy, except that in a parish that has both a civil sheriff and a criminal sheriff, the civil sheriff by the chief civil deputy, and the criminal sheriff, by the chief criminal deputy, respectively; and (e) tax assessor, by the chief deputy assessor.

(2)(a)  If there is no such person to assume the duties when the vacancy occurs, the governing authority or authorities of the parish or parishes affected shall within twenty days appoint a person having the qualifications of the office to assume the duties of the office.  However, if the deadline for making the appointment falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or other legal holiday, then the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday shall be deemed to be the final day for making such appointment.

(b)  If the vacancy in the office of sheriff occurs after a regularly scheduled election for the office of sheriff but prior to the beginning of the term and there is no chief deputy sheriff as provided in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection to assume the duties of the office, the parish governing authority may appoint the person who was elected to the office of sheriff in the regular election to assume the duties of the office in the manner provided in Subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph.

D.  If a vacancy is not filled within the time specified in Subsection A, B, or C of this Section, the governor shall fill the vacancy.

E.(1)(a)  If the unexpired term of an office covered by Subsection A of this Section is eighteen months or less, the person appointed to fill the vacancy or designated to assume the duties of the office shall serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.

(b)  If the unexpired term of an office covered by Subsection B or C of this Section is one year or less, the person appointed to fill the vacancy or designated to assume the duties of the office shall serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.

(c)  If any member of a parish or city school board is removed or suspended from office pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 42:1411, except in the parish of Jefferson, the person appointed to fill the vacancy or to perform the official acts, duties, and functions of that office during the period of suspension shall be eligible in the next election as a candidate for the office to which he is appointed.

(d)  If a sheriff is removed or suspended from office pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 42:1411 or 1412 and a person is appointed to assume the duties of the office pursuant to Subparagraph (C)(2)(b) of this Section, the person so appointed shall be eligible in the next election as a candidate for the office to which he is appointed.

(2)(a)  If the unexpired term of an office covered by Subsection A of this Section exceeds eighteen months or the unexpired term of an office covered by Subsection B or C of this Section exceeds one year, the governing authority of the local governmental subdivision in which the vacancy occurs, or the school board when the vacancy occurs in its membership, or the governor when a vacancy occurs in the office of district attorney or in an office for which there is not a single governing authority or as provided in Subsection F of this Section, within twenty days after the vacancy occurs, shall issue a proclamation ordering a special election to fill the vacancy and shall specify in the proclamation, in accordance with R.S. 18:402, the dates on which the primary and general elections shall be held and, in accordance with R.S. 18:467, 467.1, and 468, the dates of the qualifying period for candidates in the special election.  However, if the deadline for issuing the proclamation falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or other legal holiday, then the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday shall be deemed to be the final day for issuing such proclamation.  In selecting the dates for such special elections, the governing authority or school board as the case may be, may choose a gubernatorial or congressional election date, if such date is available within eighteen months of the occurrence of the vacancy for an office covered by Subsection A of this Section or within a year of the occurrence of the vacancy for an office covered by Subsection B or C of this Section or may select an election date in accordance with R.S. 18:402.  In the cases in which the governor has the authority to select the date for such special elections, the governor shall first choose a gubernatorial or congressional election date.  If no such date is available within eighteen months of the occurrence of the vacancy for an office covered by Subsection A of this Section or within a year of the occurrence of the vacancy for an office covered by Subsection B or C of this Section, the governor shall then select an election date in accordance with R.S. 18:402.  If the governing authority or school board fails to issue the proclamation within twenty days after the vacancy occurs, the governor shall issue the proclamation.

(b)  Immediately thereafter the governing authority, the school board, or the governor, as the case may be, shall publish the proclamation in the official journal of each parish in which the election is to be held.

(c)  Within twenty-four hours after issuing the proclamation, the authority or authorities ordering the special election shall send a copy of the proclamation, by certified or registered mail, to the clerk of the district court for the parish in which the vacancy occurred.  If the vacancy occurred in the parish of Orleans, the copy of the proclamation shall be so mailed to the clerk of the criminal district court.  If the vacancy occurs in an office which affects more than one parish, a copy of the proclamation shall at the same time be so mailed to the clerk of each of the parishes.  A copy of the proclamation also shall be mailed to the secretary of state at the same time and in the same manner.

(d)  Within twenty-four hours after he receives the copy, the secretary of state shall notify all election officials having any duty to perform in connection with a special election to fill such vacancy, including the parish boards of election supervisors for the parish or parishes in which the vacancy occurred.

(3)  The special election shall be held, without the necessity of a call by the governor, except in the case of a vacancy in the office of district attorney.  When a special election is required, the appointee or person designated to assume the duties of the office shall serve only until the successor is elected and takes office.

(4)  If the unexpired term of a parish or municipal office covered by Subsection A of this Section is eighteen months or more, but the vacancy occurs within eighteen months of the regularly scheduled primary election for that office, no special election will be called, and the appointee shall serve for the remainder of the term of office.

F.  Whenever multiple vacancies in a local or municipal governing authority or in a school board covered by Subsection A or B of this Section reduce the membership of such governing authority or board below the number of total members required to constitute a quorum to conduct official business, the remaining members shall immediately inform the governor of the existence of the vacancies. Within twenty days after he receives this notice, the governor shall make appointments to fill all the vacancies and shall issue a proclamation calling special elections to fill such vacancies if special elections are required under the provisions of this Section.  However, if the deadline for making the appointment or issuing the proclamation, if applicable, falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or other legal holiday, then the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday shall be deemed to be the final day for making such appointment or issuing such proclamation.

G.  The provisions of this Section shall apply to all local governmental subdivisions, including those operating under the provisions of a legislative charter, but shall not apply where the filling of a vacancy otherwise is provided for by the constitution or by the home rule charter or home rule plan of government of the affected local governmental subdivision.  Such constitutional home rule plan provisions shall govern the filling of the vacancies, except that the provisions of R.S. 18:402 shall apply to the time and manner of calling the special elections to fill the vacancies.

Acts 1976, No. 697, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1978.  Amended by Acts 1977, No. 545, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1978; Acts 1978, No. 38, §1, eff. May 31, 1978; Acts 1979, No. 229, §1, eff. July 13, 1979; Acts 1979, No. 503, §1; Acts 1980, No. 314, §1; Acts 1980, No. 792, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1981; Acts 1981, No. 76, §1, eff. June 26, 1981; Acts 1981, No. 839, §1; Acts 1985, No. 754, §1; Acts 1986, No. 669, §1; Acts 1990, No. 892, §1; Acts 1992, No. 393, §1, eff. June 19, 1992; Acts 1993, No. 418, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1994; Acts 1995, No. 300, §1, eff. June 15, 1995; Acts 1997, No. 1420, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Acts 2004, No. 526, §2, eff. June 25, 2004; Acts 2005, No. 431, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2006; Acts 2006, No. 622, §4, eff. Dec. 11, 2006; Acts 2012, No. 138, §1, eff. May 14, 2012; Acts 2012, No. 296, §1; Acts 2014, No. 202, §1, eff. May 22, 2014.

NOTE:  See Acts 2006, No. 621, §31 regarding vacancies in civil or criminal district courts, the office of the clerk of civil or criminal district courts, and civil or criminal sheriffs.

NOTE:  See Acts 2012, No. 296, §2 regarding retroactive application of R.S. 18:602(C)(2)(b) and (E)(1)(c).

NOTE:  See R.S. 41:1113(A)(1)(b) relative to eligibility of certain appointees to seek election.