Democratic lawmakers redrew the congressional map to give their party a chance at defeating Bartlett and gaining a seventh House seat. The challenge by Delaney made the race in the Sixth District the most competitive in the state.

A federal judge called the map a "blatant political gerrymander," but ruled that it was not illegal.

The amendment to remove officeholders when they are convicted will close a loophole that has allowed guilty politicians to remain in office until sentencing, which can take months.

That loophole allowed Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon to remain in office for two months after she was convicted in 2009 of stealing gift cards.

The constitutional amendment will cause the automatic suspension of elected officials the moment they are found guilty and remove them from office after a guilty plea or when the appeals process is exhausted.

Sun reporter Jonathan Pitts and Leslie Spacek contributed to this article.

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

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