HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The Pennsylvania State Board of Elections said in a court filing Friday that it is moving forward with plans for a special election to fill three vacancies in the State House in early February unless a court orders otherwise.
The State Department and Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman filed a 17-page response to Lancaster County Republican Rep. Bryan Cutler’s lawsuit seeking to halt the Feb. 7 special election in Pittsburgh-area counties last held by Democrats became.
Control of the House of Representatives hangs in the balance after Democrats snagged 12 seats in November’s election, enough for a one-seat majority. But one member died the month before he was re-elected and two other re-elected House Democrats resigned earlier this month before being sworn in in Congress and as lieutenant governor.
The new State Department filing argues that Cutler failed to also sue his Democratic counterpart as parliamentary leader, Rep. Joanna McClinton of Philadelphia, and that his dispute is with her and not with Chapman or her department. It is also claimed that his efforts on November 30 to schedule one of the three posts for February 7 were premature as the post did not become vacant before the start of the new two-year term on December 1.
“Managing the special election to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives would only do harm — wasting resources already being used to prepare for the special election on (February 7), delaying those elections and forcing the people of Pennsylvania to wait even longer go without the benefit of elected representation in their legislature,” wrote department attorneys and Chapman, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
A status conference on the case is scheduled for next week.
Allegheny County government spokeswoman Amie Downs said in an email Friday that election officials there are “awaiting trial” and in the meantime are “doing identification of polling stations, poll workers and other preparatory and administrative work ahead of each election.”
McClinton claimed the mantle of Speaker of the House on December 7. Planning of all three special elections for February 7th.
cutler sued to stop February 7 voting on December 9th. He submitted the application on Thursday hold two of the special elections in Maywho may retain majority status for his party for six months after voters put the Democrats in power.
The State Department said in its filing on Friday that it will “follow the first fictitiously valid briefs received,” i.e., McClinton’s ballot papers, “unless this court directs otherwise.”
Rep. Tony DeLuca, 85, died of cancer in October. His Democratic State Representatives in Allegheny County. Austin Davis and Summer Lee were simultaneously re-elected to the House of Representatives and to senior offices of Lieutenant Governor and US House of Representatives on November 8th.
MPs will elect a new speaker on Jan. 3, swearing-in day – the job Cutler had until Nov. 30 and says he doesn’t want it anymore. In the House of Representatives, the majority party has the power to control the voting schedule and chair committees.
https://www.abc27.com/this-week-in-pennsylvania/pennsylvania-politics/pennsylvania-dept-of-state-argues-against-delay-in-filling-3-pa-house-vacancies/ Pennsylvania Dept. of State argues against delays in filling 3 Pa. House vacancies