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Judge orders temporary delay in election to replace Maldonado

May 12, 2010 |  6:09 pm
A federal judge Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order to halt Monterey County from preparing to hold a June 22 special election to fill the Senate district seat vacated when Abel Maldonado became lieutenant governor.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel told both sides to prepare for a hearing May 20 before a three-judge panel to determine whether to stop the election on grounds that changes in the elections procedures must be cleared with the U.S. Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act.

Three Latino residents of the district filed suit based on their concern that a special election may depress the turnout by minority voters in violation of the act, according to Joaquin Avila, their attorney.

The state had argued that any delay could be the "death knell’’ of a special election. Fogel wrote that "the county already has missed the statutory deadline for mailing absentee ballots to overseas voters and that this order will further shorten the time available for mailing ballots to the voters in question, but it concludes that it has no other alternative in view of the fact that the special elections cannot proceed in the absence of " clearance by the Justice Department.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the special election over the protest of Democrats who said it would cost counties an additional $2.5 million that could be saved if the balloting was consolidated with the November general election.

 -- Patrick McGreevy

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