Yesterday's post concerned California's statutory scheme governing the gubernatorial power to fill vacant United States Senate seats. The relevant statute requires that the person appointed be an "elector of this state". Cal. Elect. Code § 10720. The definition of "elector" in turn refers to an "election", which is circularly and indefinitely defined as "any election including a primary that is provided for under this code". Cal. Elect. Code § 318. All this leads to the question of whether Governor Newsom's appointment of Laphonza Butler was an "election". According to Harvard Law School Professor Stephen E. Sachs, the same question arises under the U.S. Constitution. See Can a Marylander be the Senator from California?

In common parlance, an election is not limited to situations involving public votes and may refer to an individual's choice. For example, someone might say "I elected to work from home today". In the early eighteenth century, Puritan divines, such as Jonathan Edwards, espoused the theological doctrine of election (i.e., God chooses (elects) certain persons for salvation). Etymologically, "election" is derived from the Latin word legere which means to choose. The word "select" is derived from the same Latin verb and also means to choose.

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