The disputed upcoming special election in California's Senate District 15 may be on hold, at least for a day or two, as a federal district court has ordered [PDF] the five counties involved in the election to withhold the distribution of absentee, overseas and military ballots, pending the results of a hearing now set for May 20th in federal district court.
Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel set next week's hearing, requiring the state "to show cause, if any they have, why they, their agents, servants, employees and those in active concert or participation with them, should not be restrained and enjoined pending trial of this action from accepting any ballots, including absentee ballots, or operating any polling place in connection with the special primary election" as currently scheduled.
The compressed schedule for the election has given rise to complaints from county registrars, concerns that the hastily set date for the contest would lead to disenfranchisement of overseas military voters, and a lawsuit filed by Hispanic voters charging the election fails to comply with federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Rather than consolidating the special election with pre-existing general election dates, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently declared the special election --- to fill a vacancy in the state Senate following his appointment of former State Senator Abel Maldonado as Lieutenant Governor --- would take place on June 22nd.
In two previous articles, The BRAD BLOG has detailed how the issue has rankled election officials and voters alike, yet the Governor's office has so far failed to make accommodations for those serious concerns from several different corners...