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Lawsuit Seeks to Delay Prop. 54 Vote Until March

August 28, 2003|From Associated Press

FRESNO — Opponents of a proposition that would limit the state's ability to ask citizens their race have filed a lawsuit alleging voting rights violations in Kings and Merced counties in an effort to remove the issue from the recall ballot.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, Merced County voter Lea Hernandez and Kings County voters Antonio E. Salazar and Dolores Gallegos allege that putting Proposition 54 on the ballot to recall Gov. Gray Davis violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

The proposition was originally scheduled for the March presidential primary, but was moved to Oct. 7 when the recall qualified as the next statewide election.

It would ban state and local governments from using or collecting racial and ethnic information, mostly relating to public education, contracting and employment.

The voters filed the suit because Merced and Kings are two of four California counties that must receive U.S. Justice Department approval before changing their voting process because of their history of federal Voting Rights Act violations. Monterey and Yuba are the two other counties.

The lawsuit asks a three-judge panel to delay voting on the proposition until March.

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