Court Rules Recall Election, Vote on Proposition 54 Will Proceed Oct. 7
An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco Tuesday unanimously ruled that the recall election and the vote on Proposition 54 will be held on Oct. 7, the Sacramento Bee reports (Cooper, Sacramento Bee, 9/24). The decision reversed a three-judge panel's unanimous ruling last week to postpone the election because punch-card ballots known to leave "hanging chads" are still used in six counties and could disenfranchise about 40,000 voters. That decision also delayed a vote on Proposition 54, also known as the Racial Privacy Initiative, which would prevent California government agencies and schools from collecting racial and ethnic data but would allow exemptions in instances involving some medical research data, convicted criminals or crime suspects and occasions in which the federal government requires racial data (California Healthline, 9/16). The 11-judge panel ruled that the potential harm to voters using the punch-card system was outweighed by "the enormous resources ... already invested in reliance on the election's proceeding on the announced date" (Sacramento Bee, 9/24). The panel noted that nearly 700,000 residents already have voted by absentee ballot and that the state has spent as much as $50 million preparing for the Oct. 7 election (Mintz, San Jose Mercury News, 9/24). They added that "there is no doubt that the right to vote is fundamental, but a federal court cannot lightly interfere" with a state election (Finnegan, Los Angeles Times, 9/24).
Shortly after the decision was announced, lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, who represented the coalition of civil rights groups seeking the postponement, said that they will not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. "We have a responsibility to this community to bring some finality so the election can proceed," Mark Rosenbaum, an ACLU attorney, said. However, the election results might still be challenged by some advocacy groups, the New York Times reports (Murphy/Broder, New York Times, 9/24).
Summaries of other Proposition 54 coverage are provided below.
- The University of California-Berkeley is investigating the Associated Students of UC Berkeley's allocation of between $20,000 and $30,000 of university funding from campus student fees to purchase buttons and signs to campaign against Proposition 54, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. ASUC President Kris Cuaresma-Primm said that because members of the Graduate Student Assembly who spent the money have not yet sought reimbursement from the ASUC, nothing improper or illegal has occurred (Schevitz, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/24).
Fannie Mae, a federally chartered agency that is one of the nation's largest providers of mortgage financing, Tuesday reported that it has contributed $50,000 to the Coalition for an Informed California, a committee that opposes Proposition 54, the Los Angeles Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 9/24).
- Sen. Ross Johnson (R-Irvine) on Tuesday sent a letter to gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante's (D) attorneys demanding that he cancel any remaining advertising that was paid for with donations he raised in excess of state limits, the Los Angeles Times reports. Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster of Sacramento on Monday ruled that Bustamante should not have spent the funds even though they were donated to an account created before the limits were implemented. Bustamante's campaign strategist Richie Ross said yesterday that the disputed funds paid for ads opposing Proposition 54 that are scheduled to run through Thursday (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 9/24).
Additional Proposition 54 coverage is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.