RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Newly vacant Virginia House seats will remain unfilled until next year, as state leaders have opted against holding special elections in the districts.

All 140 Virginia General Assembly seats are on the ballot this November, with primaries set for June.

Special elections to fill the empty seats would require quick contests and insert replacements that would serve until early January 2024. Also, Virginia law prevents special elections from being held within 55 days of a general or primary election, and early voting for the June 20 primaries begins May 5.

House Speaker Toddy Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and House Minority Leader Don Scott Jr. (D-Portsmouth) agreed that special elections to fill the seats were unnecessary, according to Gilbert’s spokesman Garren Shipley.

“Registrars also expressed serious concern that this could happen in a timely manner,” Shipley told 8News. “He [Gilbert] has conveyed those thoughts to the Governor, who has the final say as we are no longer in session.”

Democrats challenged that view, arguing that the decision to seek special elections is in the hands of Speaker Gilbert.

“No special elections in House races, but NOT because of Gov – it’s not his call because we are in special session so it’s the Speaker’s call & House GOP doesn’t want to test its unilateral adjournment theory,” state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) tweeted Tuesday.

A Youngkin spokeswoman directed 8News to the Virginia Department of Elections, which confirmed that the vacant House seats will remain empty until after the new General Assembly is sworn in next year.

“Since the primaries are getting underway for the new districts, there will be no special elections ordered for the current vacant house of delegate seats,” Andrea Gaines, a Department of Elections spokeswoman, told 8News.

This year’s state legislative elections will be the first under new districts after Virginia underwent its once-in-a-decade redistricting process in late 2021, which drove many lawmakers to retire and others to seek new seats in the assembly.

Many candidates running in new districts were not impacted by redistricting. But those seeking seats outside their district’s current boundaries need to resign before filing candidate paperwork with the state by an April 6 deadline.

So far, the House of Delegates will have three fewer delegates when lawmakers meet on April 12 to consider amendments and vetoes Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed to the bills passed this year.

These lawmakers include Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) and former Dels. Nadarius Clark (D-Portsmouth) and Tim Anderson (R-Virginia Beach). Bagby won a special election to fill the Virginia Senate seat once held by Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-Va.) and Clark and Anderson resigned from the House to run for new seats.

Clark, who held the 79th District seat, is seeking to represent House District 84. Anderson, who decided not to run again in the House, announced Tuesday that he aims to run for the Virginia Senate’s new 19th District.

Under the Virginia Constitution, General Assembly candidates must live in the district they represent.

This rule required Clark and Anderson to resign before filing paperwork with the state indicating they’ve established residency in the new districts they intend to represent. Candidates must file the paperwork, including signatures, by April 6.

While the three seats will remain unfilled, it won’t impact the Republican majority in the House of Delegates during the veto session. It will mean that those House districts will not have a representative until 2024.