Lawsuit seeks to halt Senate election.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
In a lawsuit filed this morning, a civil rights firm is challenging the scheduling of the state Senate District 15 election, saying that the election cannot be held until it satisfies Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Last week Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger scheduled the special Senate election (which is necessary after Abel Maldonado was appointed lieutenant governor) for a June 22 primary and an Aug. 17 general election, pissing off Democrats and election officials who want the general race consolidated with the November ballot. Monterey County is a "preclearance county" under the Voting Rights Act, requiring election officials to get preclearance from the Department of Justice before moving polling places or drawing voter districts.
"The Governor’s decision on calling this election will disenfranchise Latino voters in Monterey County – the Governor should have consolidated the special election schedule with the general election to be conducted on November 2, 2010," said attorney Joaquin Avila, in a prepared statement. "Such a consolidation would have permitted the United States Attorney General to review the impact of this election date change on minority voting strength within the statutory 60 day time period specified by Section 5."
The complaint requests a temporary restraining order "so that the Federal Department of Justice has the opportunity to meaningfully review the change in election date and to solicit and receive public comment on the election date change."
Avila added: "Our right to vote is sacred and the decision to hold a special election for a senate district seat will thwart voter turnout within minority communities and is unacceptable.”