No Special Election for Traficant Seat

A federal judge on Monday denied the request by a civil liberties group for a special election to replace ousted Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.

U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus noted that Congress is scheduled to recess on Oct. 3 and there was a strong likelihood that an individual selected by voters in a special election would never cast a vote.

Sargus also said state officials, and particularly Gov. Bob Taft, didn't not abuse their discretion in deciding not to hold a special election. 

Following the ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a notice of appeal.

"This decision confuses the issue of when to hold an election with whether to hold an election,'' Raymond Vasvari, the ACLU's legal director, said Monday.

The ACLU had sued to force Taft to hold the election, which the governor estimated would cost $800,000. Taft, a Republican, said that replacing Traficant, a Democrat, for what could only be a few weeks was not worth the expense or the voter confusion it might cause.

ACLU staff attorney Jillian Davis said northeast Ohio residents would need representation in the event of a "lame duck'' session, in which lawmakers vote after the November election but before the next Congress convenes in January.

Twelve of the last 33 sessions of Congress have had lame-duck votes.

The House kicked Traficant out of Congress for his conviction in April on federal charges of bribery and other crimes.