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Traficant seat to remain vacant

Ohio governor cites cost of special election

James Traficant, expelled from the House, says he'll run for office from prison, if necessary.
James Traficant, expelled from the House, says he'll run for office from prison, if necessary.  

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) -- Expelled Rep. James Traficant's seat in Congress will remain vacant through the end of the year because a special election to fill it would be too expensive and too complicated, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft announced Thursday.

"I have concluded that a special election could result in significant cost and has the potential for wide-scale voter confusion," Taft said in a written statement.

Under the Constitution, House vacancies must be filled with a special election, not by appointment. But Taft estimated that an election would cost more than $800,000, and it could not take place until October, just a month before the scheduled election.

Ohio's 17th Congressional District, which takes in parts of three counties in the northeastern part of the state, was significantly redrawn during reapportionment. So November's general election would be held under the district's new boundaries, while the special election would have to be conducted with the old boundaries -- a process Taft said would be confusing for both voters and elections officials.

Traficant, a Democrat, was expelled by the House Wednesday night on a vote of 420-1, becoming only the fifth House member in history to be tossed from the body by his colleagues. He faces sentencing next week for his conviction on 10 federal corruption felonies.

Traficant, who insists he did nothing wrong, is running for the new 17th District seat as an independent. He has vowed to fulfill his House duties from prison, if necessary.

With Traficant's expulsion, the new House lineup is 222 Republicans, 210 Democrats, two independents and one vacancy.




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