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Judge’s Ruling Modifies California Recall Law

BY Admin  July 29, 2003 at 6:00 PM EDT

Last week, California’s Secretary of State Kevin Shelley announced that Davis opponents had gathered enough certifiable petition signatures to force a recall election under state law.

In Tuesday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Barry Moskowitz struck down part of the recall law that said only voters who mark “yes” or “no” on the question of removing Davis from office may mark their preference for a replacement.

“What is at stake is the right of a voter to decide who shall succeed the governor, if recalled. Every voter, whether they voted for or against that recall, has a paramount interest in choosing the person who will govern them,” Moskowitz said according to Associated Press.

As the law was written, only those who voted on the first ballot question, which will ask whether Davis should be ousted, would have had their votes tallied on the second question, which will ask voters to choose a successor.

Two University of San Diego law professors, Shaun Martin and Sandy Rierson, brought the matter to the court, claiming that the law was unconstitutional.

“The voters of California won,” said Martin. “This is just the right of every voter to vote how they choose: yes, no or abstain.”

Lawyers for the California Secretary of State’s office defended the law, which the state’s attorney general also supported.

“Allowing voters to abstain on the recall question would allow those with only an indirect or remote interest in this crucial question to decide who will replace a recalled officer,” said Deputy Attorney General Leslie R. Lopez.

Davis’s only official opposition is U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, a San Diego Republican and millionaire who helped finance the recall effort.

A spokesman for Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that the actor and GOP supporter would likely not become a candidate.

Bill Simon, a Republican lawyer who Davis defeated in November, and Richard Riordan, the former Republican mayor of Los Angeles, are also said to be considering entering the race.

Candidates have until August 9 to register to appear on the ballot.