Man Without Qualities

Friday, August 29, 2003

Davis Descending XXXVII: Governor Saved By Ashcroft?

Who knew that John Ashcroft and Gray Davis were best buddies? But that seems to be the case.

While it's not getting the publicity it deserves, there is one very serious federal court challenge to the October 7 recall pending - in San Jose, of all places. It's serious because under the Voting Rights Act the federal court probably cannot allow the election to go forward in Monterey County - which, of course, would derail the whole recall statewide - unless the United States Department of Justice approves the proposed voting procedures. The court seems to have little choice if the Justice Department won't act - and it hadn't acted as of late yesterday (Thursday), and the court is meeting today:

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel issued a temporary restraining order Aug. 15 preventing Monterey County from proceeding, because its plan to consolidate polling places and reduce poll workers had not been reviewed by the Justice Department.

The Justice Department Aug. 19 gave pre-clearance for the Oct. 7 date for the election to recall Gov. Gray Davis, saying it would not affect minority voting rights.

But it still has to rule on whether to allow Proposition 54 to be on the statewide ballot, a measure that prohibits state and local agencies from collecting and using racial and ethnic data that was moved from the March 2002 ballot. It also is considering approval of Monterey County's revised election plan, which reduces the number of polling places from 190 to 86 because of the expense and compressed timing.

Any changes in the voting process in Monterey, Kings, Merced and Yuba counties must be cleared by the federal government because of previous violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which, among other things, is designed to prevent last-minute election changes.

As of this writing, there was no Justice Department press release suggesting any action has been taken in connection with the Monterey case.

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