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Monterey County election officials are continuing to prepare for the June 22 special primary election to fill a vacancy in the 15th Senate District, despite a court order to put preparations on hold.

"I'm still putting time and energy in with this election and putting money in this election because we have to be ready ... for it to happen at the drop of a hat," said Monterey County Registrar Linda Tulett.

The temporary restraining order, which a federal judge granted last night, temporarily stops county officials from proceeding with election preparations such as mailing absentee ballots until a hearing next Thursday on a lawsuit seeking to delay the election.

The suit, filed on behalf of three Latino voters in the county, argues that the election should be put on hold until the U.S. Department of Justice OKs any changes subject to review under the federal Voting Rights Act, including, they say, the special election date. Monterey is one of a handful of counties in the state where changes in voting are subject to preclearance under Section 5 of the law.

Tulett said she has already submitted two preclearance requests related to the election and plans to submit several more. She had also planned to submit the write-in absentee ballots for preclearance, in hopes of mailing those ballots after Secretary of State Debra Bowen releases the certified list of candidates on Monday. But now Tulett likely will not be able to mail those ballots until the restraining order is lifted.

In the meantime, she said, the office is chipping away at more general preparations, such as drafting and approving ballot cover designs and educational materials to inform voters about the special-election process.

"We still have to keep moving forward because if we come to a complete halt ourselves and then suddenly we get the OK to go, we don't want to be behind," she said.



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