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Californians Vote in Recall Election - 2003-10-07


Californians went to the polls Tuesday to decide whether or not to remove their governor, Democrat Gray Davis. The Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is his leading challenger. The campaigns mobilized supporters as the voters made their decisions.

There is intense interest in this special election, the first ever in California that poses the question: Should the governor be removed?

Voters are deciding that question and, if they choose, will select a replacement, who will take office if the recall is successful.

Arnold Schwarzenegger gets the support of Marcelina Bergeron, who is helping at his campaign office in the beachside community of Santa Monica. Volunteers for other candidates are manning the phones and knocking on doors throughout the state.

Ms. Bergeron says California has serious fiscal problems, and she thinks Mr. Schwarzenegger can solve them. "He's going to cut the budget in areas where it needs to be cut and put the money where it needs to be, such as children first, less government," she said. "There's so much that Mr. Schwarzenegger cares about, but he cares about the people most of all, and so the people are going to elect him as governor."

Not very likely, says Molly Culligan, who slowed her car outside the Schwarzenegger office. She is bothered by claims of women who say that the actor harassed them. She holds a sign that says, "Sexual Harassment is not a family value."

"He's a bigot. He's against women. He's against American Indians," she said. "If we elect him, that's what we're saying we stand for."

In South Central Los Angeles, a black and Hispanic neighborhood, Joan Goward has just voted "no" on the recall. She supports Governor Davis.

"Because I don't think anyone should recall someone that we elected legally. And Davis is doing the best he can," she explains.

Voters are casting ballots in community halls, private homes and churches throughout the state. Here in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, they are voting inside a low-income housing complex. Poll worker Charlene Davis says she is busy.

One-hundred-35 candidates are listed, but according to the poll worker, most voters need little help in using their punch card ballot. "They already have their mind made up, and they're ready just punch in, punch out," she said.

Poll workers make sure that hanging tags or "chads" are fully removed, to ensure that each vote is counted.

If the election is close, release of official results could be days or weeks away. Most analysts say, however, that unofficial results may be known by early Wednesday morning.

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