Latino group wants a do-over for Pa. legislative races

The lingering battle over drawing new legislative districts in Pennsylvania was in federal court Friday, as a Latino group urged U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick to order special legislative elections this year.

A year ago the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shocked the political world by striking down a redistricting plan that Democrats criticized as gerrymandered.

Since there wasn’t time to re-draw new districts before last year’s primary election, 203 House races and 25 Senate contests were conducted along boundaries lines more than 10 years old.

A new plan has been crafted, though it remains under a separate state court challenge.

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The group Latino Justice wants Surrick to order the state to in effect do last year’ election over with updated districts. That would mean having 228 special legislative elections this year.

Latino Justice President Juan Cartagena said after the court hearing it’s wrong for lawmakers to serve full terms after being elected from districts so outdated that they violate the one-person, one vote principle.

“Every day that a legislator stands in Harrisburg and passes a bill, he or she is doing so based on (an) unconstitutional premise,” Cartagena said.

State officials oppose the move, saying it’s unnecessary and would mean that state representatives, who serve two-year terms, would have to run for their seats three years in a row.

Surrick is expected to the rule on the request in a few weeks.

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