Cox."Part of the mission of the registrar of voters is to conduct
elections in an accessible manner. We failed in that part of our
mission," Chief Deputy Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said at a
Earlier this month Schwarzenegger called a special general
election for Dec. 6 to fill the House seat, and state law requires
the primary to be held eight or more Tuesdays prior to that date.
That would have set the primary on Oct. 11, but state law also
prohibits an election the day after a state holiday, and Oct. 10 is
Jewish groups said the choice of Oct. 4 was insensitive because
observant Jews are not supposed to drive or write that day and
therefore would be unable to vote.
To alleviate that problem, the registrar's office plans to offer
early voting, probably from Sept. 25 to 29, and to encourage people
to vote absentee.
Those concessions and the apology pacified Jewish organizations,
but some elected officials said they're still open to the option of
changing the election date.
"I think that there's a real mea culpa," Anti-Defamation League
Regional Director Joyce Greenspan said in a phone interview. "It'll
also be a lesson to other districts, other communities, to be more
sensitive to religious days in our very ethnic culture."
Although representatives of Jewish organizations said they were
satisfied with the apology and provisions for absentee and early
voting, a state legislator continues to push a bill that would allow
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to move the election.
Earlier this week in Sacramento, Assemblyman Keith Richman
proposed a bill that would allow the governor to hold the election
Oct. 11 or another date, possibly even in conjunction with the
statewide special election on Nov. 8.
Richman said he wrote the bill because he thinks it's "just wrong"
to hold an election on one of the Jewish High Holy Days. The
legislature could act on the bill as soon as next week.
A change in the election date would mean added costs for the
Orange County Registrar because covers for sample ballots already
have been printed.
"I always have concerns about costs," Richman said, "but I think
that the relatively minor cost to ensure that our democracy does not
disenfranchise any voters is appropriate."
Early voting will be offered at 10 locations around the
Congressional district, including Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach.
The dates are still being finalized, Kelley said.
Orange County Supervisor Bill Campbell said he'll propose that
county officials adopt a list of dates, including religious holidays,
when elections won't be scheduled. He also said he'll work with
Richman to put similar provisions into state law.