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Feingold calls for constitutional amendment requiring special elections

U.S Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., says he'll introduce a constitutional amendment this week to require special elections to fill vacant Senate seats.

The Wisconsin Democrat said the naming of Barack Obama's replacement from Illinois was too much of a spectacle and it was nothing like democracy.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich was indicted for trying to sell the Senate seat after Obama was elected president.

And despite numerous calls for a special election the governor named Roland Burris anyway.

Feingold chairs the Senate's judiciary sub-panel on the Constitution. He said Wisconsin has used special elections to fill Senate vacancies since 1913, when the 17th Amendment gave voters the job of electing senators to six-year terms. State legislatures had previously appointed them.

Feingold said Wisconsin's "Fighting Bob" LaFollette pushed for that change.

The last time the Badger State replaced a mid-term senator was 1957, when Joe McCarthy died and Bill Proxmire was elected.

Critics say special elections cost too much as states face massive deficits.

But Feingold says it's wrong for one person to make such an important appointment and if need be, a seat can be left vacant for awhile.

There are a couple of ways to amend the U.S. Constitution, as Feingold wants.

Under the one used the most, Congress passes an amendment and three-fourths of state legislatures then ratify it.