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List of United States Senate election disputes: Map


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Article One of the United States Constitution gives the Senate the power to “determine the elections, returns, and qualifications” of its own members. As a result, the Senate has been asked to review the election of one of its members many times.

Election cases

Year Senator State Result Details
1794 Albert Gallatin Pennsylvaniamarker Unseated Gallatin was ruled to have failed to meet the minimum nine years of United States citizenship required to be a senator.
1794 Kensey Johns Delawaremarker Not seated Johns was appointed to the Senate by the Governor of Delaware while the state legislature was in session (albeit deadlocked).
1796 William Blount Tennesseemarker Not seated; then later seated Blount and Cocke were appointed to the Senate by the legislature of the Southwest Territory, which was seeking to have its statehood recognized. The Senate admitted the Southwest Territory into the Union as the State of Tennesseemarker on June 1, and ruled that Blount and Cocke were not qualified to be senators because the body which had appointed them was not yet a state legislature. The Tennessee legislature duly reappointed Blount and Cocke, and the two were seated under that appointment on December 6.
William Cocke
1801 Uriah Tracy Connecticutmarker Seated Tracy was a Federalist whose term expired at the close of March 3, 1801. The Connecticut state legislature had not met to appoint a senator to fill Tracy's seat, so the Connecticut governor had appointed Tracy to the Senate “from the 3rd of March next until the next meeting of the legislature of said state.” His credentials were questioned, but he was approved to take his seat by a vote of 13–10.
1809 Stanley Griswold Ohiomarker Seated Griswold was appointed to the Senate less than a year after he had moved to Ohio. His residency in that state was questioned. The Committee of Elections ruled that since neither the Constitution nor the laws of Ohio specified residency requirements, the certification of the governor of Ohio that Griswold was a resident was sufficient for his appointment.
1815 Jesse Bledsoe Kentuckymarker Seat declared vacant Bledsoe had sent a letter of resignation to the state government of Kentucky in December 1814. On January 20, 1815, after a successor had been named but before that successor had appeared before the Senate, Bledsoe submitted a letter to the Senate requesting to know whether he still retained the seat or if the seat had been declared vacant. The Senate then declared the seat vacant.
1825 James Lanman Connecticutmarker Not seated On March 4, 1825, the Senate met in special session. Lanman's term had expired at the close of the previous day, so he presented new credentials from Connecticut's governor, appointing Lanman to his seat until the state legislature convened in May. The credentials had been issued in late February so that they could reach Lanman by the start of the new term. The Senate ruled that the governor lacked authority to issue credentials in advance of a vacancy and so denied Lanman his seat.
1827 Ephraim Bateman New Jerseymarker Retained seat Bateman had been the chairman of the joint meeting of the New Jersey state legislature to elect a replacement for Joseph McIlvaine. With the field narrowed to two candidates, Bateman had won the election by a vote of 29–28, with Bateman providing the one vote margin. A protest was filed, claiming that Bateman's presiding over—and providing the deciding vote for—his own election was illegal and improper. The Senate ruled that New Jersey had met all constitutional directives relating to Senate elections and so Bateman was duly elected.
1834 Elisha R. Potter


Asher Robbins
Rhode Islandmarker Robbins retained seat
1837 Ambrose H. Sevier Arkansasmarker Seated
1844 John M. Niles Connecticutmarker Seated
1849 James Shields Illinoismarker Unseated
1974 Louis C. Wyman New Hampshiremarker Not seated Republican Louis C. Wyman initially defeated Democrat John A. Durkin by 355 votes; however, two subsequent recounts held Durkin and Wyman to be the victor, by 10 and 2 votes respectively. After weeks of wrangling over disputed ballots, Durkin and Wyman agreed to run again in a special election, and the U.S. Senate declared the seat vacant. The special election was held in 1975, which John Durkin won with 54%.
2008 Al Franken Minnesotamarker Seated

Democratic challenger Al Franken has been declared the winner in the contested Senate election which took place on November 4, 2008, though former Republican Senator Norm Coleman has appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Courtmarker. On November 18, the State Canvassing Board certified results of the election with Franken trailing Coleman by 215 votes, less than 0.0075% of the more than 2.8 million votes cast. The close margin triggered a mandatory recount, which was ordered by the Canvassing Board to begin on November 19 and largely finished on December 5.On December 16, the Board began reviewing ballots that had been challenged by each campaign, ruling on more than 1,300 individual ballots and reallocating 5,300 whose challenges had been withdrawn.

On January 3, Coleman's term officially expired, leaving the Senate seat vacant. On January 5, the results of the recount were officially certified with Franken holding a 225-vote lead. On January 6, Coleman's campaign filed an election contest with the Minnesota courts. The contest prevents the state from issuing an election certificate and seating a winner until the contest is resolved. On March 31, the three-judge panel hearing the election contest issued an order to count more improperly rejected ballots, and 351 more ballots were counted on April 7.After those votes were counted Franken's margin grew to 312 votesand on April 13, the panel dismissed Coleman's Notice of Contest and ruled that Franken had won the election. Coleman filed an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court on April 20, and on April 24, the Minnesota Supreme Court released its order for an expedited briefing schedule, with oral arguments to take place on June 1, 2009. On June 30, 2009, Minnesota Supreme Court, ruled unanimously that Al Franken received the most votes, and Coleman conceded defeat after the ruling, allowing Franken to be Senator-elect of Minnesota.

Roland Burris Illinoismarker Seated

Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) chose Roland Burris (D-IL) as the Senator-designate from Illinois to fill the seat left vacant by then President-elect Barack Obama (D-IL). Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) refused to seat Burris due to allegations that Governor Blagojevich had tried to sell the senate seat left vacant by Obama.

Burris appeared at the Capitol Buildingmarker on January 6, 2009 hoping to get sworn in as the US Senator from Illinois. Burris was once again denied the seat.

On January 9, 2009, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the appointment only required the signature of the governor, the secretary of state's signature is not required to make the appointment valid. It also said Illinois is not obligated to use, and hence its Secretary of State is not required to sign, the Senate's "recommended" certification form. The State Supreme Court noted that a different form was available: White had already registered the appointment in Illinois's official records, and Illinois law requires the Secretary of State to provide a certified copy, with signature and seal, of any of the state's official records to anyone willing to pay the fee. It suggested that Burris simply obtain a certified copy of the appointment registration. In its Burris v. White ruling the State Supreme Court not only declared that the form of certificate contained in rule II of the Standing Rules of the United States Senate was, according to its own terms, only a recommended form but it further remarked that "no explanation has been given as to how any rule of the Senate, whether it be formal or merely a matter of tradition, could supersede the authority to fill vacancies conferred on the states by the federal constitution". Following the ruling, White provided Burris with a certified copy of the appointment's registration, and Burris delivered that copy, that bears the State Seal, to the Secretary of the Senate. On January 12, 2009, after the Secretary of the Senate announced that he and the Senate Parliamentarian deemed Burris's new credentials valid, Senate leaders decided to seat Burris. Burris was finally sworn in on January 15, 2009, by President of the Senate Dick Cheney.


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