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Federal Court Reviews Appeal Delay in California Recall Election - 2003-09-17

A U.S. federal appeals court is reviewing arguments over California's delayed recall election against Governor Gray Davis. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether or not to let the election go ahead October 7, while the candidates are campaigning as if it will be held as planned.

Monday, a three-judge panel delayed the election, arguing that obsolete punch-card ballots used in six California counties would unfairly hurt minorities, who are concentrated there. Tuesday, the full appeals court said it may reconsider the issue, and Wednesday, it started reviewing written arguments.

California's top election official, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, wants the issue reconsidered. So does Connie McCormack, the top election official in Los Angeles. She says half of the money for the election has been spent already, and that postponing the vote until March, when political parties hold their primaries, will complicate the ballot. The recall ballot alone contains the names of 135 candidates for governor, and two ballot measures.

"The question is, the taxpayers' money has been spent," she explained. "And also the question is, if that this election is put off till next March, we don't have a balloting system that can run a normal primary next March and this recall on the same ballot. So that's going to be a huge logistical problem."

The candidates, including Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, are campaigning as if the election will go ahead next month. Tuesday, he addressed immigrants, key voters in California. He did the same on Wednesday, in spite of the postponement by the three appeals court judges.

"I still cannot believe that they would interfere with that. And so as far as I'm concerned, it's going to be October 7. I'm going to go for that date, and I'm going to win," he said.

Governor Gray Davis is still campaigning to keep his job. Wednesday he appeared with Senator John Kerry, one of many prominent Democrats who have come to California to help him out. He was on stage Tuesday with the Reverend Jesse Jackson. The civil rights activist urged a "no" vote on the recall and a "no" on Proposition 54, a measure that would stop the state from collecting racial data. "No on Recall, No on 54. Governor Davis, lead on, lead on," he said.

Four of the major candidates were scheduled to debate late Wednesday. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the only major contender who declined to participate. He will appear instead on The Larry King Show, a television talk show with a much larger audience. He promises to join in one debate, next week.