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Pa. Speaker Wants To Suspend Special Elections In Wake of Block to Redistricting

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(The Pennsylvania capitol, in Harrisburg.  File photo)

(The Pennsylvania capitol, in Harrisburg. File photo)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The speaker of the Pennsylvania House is asking a federal court for guidance in the aftermath of a state Supreme Court ruling that has thrown elections for state legislative seats into chaos.

Last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed out the new map for state House and Senate districts, ruling that the current map, drawn up a decade ago, must be used until an acceptable new map is approved (see previous story).

But state House speaker Sam Smith says his immediate problem is that he must call special elections for six vacant state House seats and is stuck with an outdated map that is “so wildly out of proportion -– one person, one vote-wise, population-wise -– that I don’t want to be calling special elections going forward in those districts.”

Smith says he’s asking the federal court to affirm his position.

Among the vacant House seats for which special elections are needed are three in Philadelphia formerly held by Dennis O’Brien, Jewell Williams, and Kenyatta Johnson, and a Montgomery County seat that was held by Josh Shapiro.

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