A panel of three federal judges says it will not postpone CaliforniaÂ´s historic recall election based on lawsuits that assert it might disenfranchise minority voters in Monterey County. The decision was handed down this morning in San Jose. Late yesterday, the U.S. Justice Department made a formal determination that the countyÂ´s hurriedly assembled balloting plans for the election did not constitute a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. A Justice Department spokesman says federal officials have signed off on Monterey CountyÂ´s recall arrangements, removing one of the last legal barriers to the October seventh.
Last week, the judges delayed a decision in anticipation of guidance from the Justice Department and had already imposed a temporary restraining order preventing Monterey elections officials from mailing absentee ballots to overseas voters. At issue is whether the cash- and time-strapped countyÂ´s plan to hire fewer than usual bilingual poll workers and to consolidate the number of polling locations from about 190 to about 86 runs afoul of the Voting Rights Act. To win federal approval, the county agreed to add an additional five polling places.