Special election for senate seat can proceed June 22, judges rule.
Friday, May 21, 2010
A three-judge panel ruled Friday, May 21 that a special election set for June 22 can move forward, despite concerns by civil rights activists that a special election held soon after the June 8 statewide primary would confuse potential voters, and depress turn-out, especially among Latinos.
Former Assemblyman John Laird, a Santa Cruz Democrat is battling Assembly Minority Leader Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) for the state senate seat vacated by recently appointed Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado. The election is one of the few in the state that is highly competitive because Democrats hold only a slim voter registration advantage over Republicans in the five-county district, which includes coastal Monterey County.
A low-turnout special election is thought to favor Republicans. Democrats had argued for holding the vote at the same time as the general election in November.
Civil rights attorneys representing three Monterey County Latino plaintiffs had asked the court to delay the election because they argued it would violate the Voting Rights Act. As a result of past voting rights problems, Monterey is one of a handful of counties in the state where the US Department of Justice must certify that any changes in elections don't discriminate against minoritiess. Attorneys argued that DOJ officials had insufficient time to investigate the election process, but when the case was heard on Thursday May 20, DOJ officials said they'd already approved the election.
Plaintiffs attorneys have asked the judges to reconsider their ruling.