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SACRAMENTO — The NAACP and organized labor have tapped a Southern California lawyer with close ties to Gov. Gray Davis for the latest lawsuit challenging the Oct. 7 recall election. Cynthia McClain-Hill, managing partner of McClain-Hill Associates in Los Angeles, plans to file a suit as early as Monday, said Alice Huffman, president of the California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. McClain-Hill is one of Davis’ appointees to the California Coastal Commission. She also served as part of his 1998 transition team when he was elected governor. Her practice includes corporate, land use and regulatory law. Huffman said McClain-Hill agreed to take on the election case pro bono after receiving Huffman’s SOS call asking for someone to help make sure minority voters are not left out of the recall decision. McClain-Hill did not return a call seeking comment Thursday. The suit will allege that the election will unfairly exclude minority and other voters, Huffman said. She pointed to reports out of some counties, including Los Angeles, that outdated voter machines could be used and that polling stations are being consolidated to make it easier on county elections officials. Huffman said changing polling places will lead to fewer voters from poorer neighborhoods participating. She compared this “disenfranchisement” of voters to the 2000 presidential election. The suit will seek to delay the recall election to Nov. 4, when some counties already have an election scheduled. Huffman said the delay will also give the NAACP time to drum up opposition to University of California Regent Ward Connerly’s initiative banning state collection of racial data, which is also slated to be on the recall ballot. Huffman said the national NAACP office would serve as plaintiff. Defendants likely would be the state of California or counties, and the case likely would be filed in federal court, she said. The NAACP is being joined in the suit by the California Labor Federation. Organized labor has been one of Davis’ staunchest backers and helped form a coalition of supporters to fight the recall. The suit would join a raft of other litigation over the recall. The latest case was filed Wednesday with the state Supreme Court by Mark Burton, a trial lawyer with Hersh & Hersh in San Francisco. In Burton v. Shelley, S117834, Burton claims the secretary of state’s signature requirements for recall candidates are too low. The state’s highest court is also considering petitions over whether any other candidates can be elected if Davis is recalled — Frankel v. Shelley, S117770, and Byrnes v. Bustamante, S117832 — and whether it’s appropriate for two initiatives to be on the recall ballot, Eisenberg v. Shelley, S117763. The Supreme Court has asked for opposition in all the cases to be filed by Monday. Three Republican-led, pro-recall committees are likely going to join forces and try to enter the cases as an intervener. Plaintiff replies are due Wednesday.

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