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S.F. GROUP JOINS RECALL CHALLENGES SACRAMENTO — A San Francisco-based public interest group has filed the first federal lawsuit challenging the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The group alleges that the Oct. 7 recall violates Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1968, said Robert Rubin, an attorney with the committee. Section 5, which is designed to protect the rights of minority voters, says that voting changes must be submitted for approval to the U.S. Department of Justice. Among other allegations, Rubin said that the Oct. 7 election date qualifies as a voting change and therefore must be OK’d by the DOJ. The code section allows a preliminary injunction if necessary, Rubin said. The defendants are Monterey, Yuba, Merced and King counties, as well as Secretary of State Kevin Shelley and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. The suit echoes the legal challenge filed in federal court last week by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The earlier case alleged Section 5 violations in connection with Proposition 54, University of California Regent Ward Connerly’s “Racial Privacy” initiative. Several other suits have been filed over the Oct. 7 election, which includes the Davis recall question and Prop 54, but most of them are with the state Supreme Court. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has threatened a federal suit but has not filed yet. — Jeff Chorney

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