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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Election Officials Race to Prepare for Recall Election

Aired August 12, 2003 - 19:11   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We move on to California. The euphoria, the wild week is starting to wear off. Reality is setting in.
Some critics say the large number of candidates, 247 at last count, and California's use of punch card ballots are ingredients for a Florida-style election meltdown.

Dan Lothian is in Los Angeles.

Dan, what about it?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there is a lot of concern. Officials here are facing a monumental process as they try to get ready for the October 7 recall election.

This is unprecedented. Elections are always difficult. But doing it in such a short time span, say officials, will be close to impossible.

In Los Angeles County, the registrar's office is already working the phones, trying to round up volunteers to work at polling stations. Statewide 100,000 people are needed across 20,000-25,000 polling stations.

There's also a major concern over punch card ballots, as you mentioned, which will be used in six of the state's counties. They have been decertified but must be used because mandated new machines won't be up and running in time.

In addition, election officials have to print four million sample ballots and mail them to four million voters. The ballot itself also must be formatted.

One election law attorney says the checklist is long.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED WOOCHER, ELECTION LAW ATTORNEY: Can the elections officials really pull it together? Can they meet the deadlines that are set by law for printing the ballots, for getting them out to the voters? Can they train enough poll workers to be available? Can they arrange for the voting equipment to be brought out of mothballs and gotten ready for the election?

(END VIDEO CLIP) LOTHIAN: Another possible wrench in this process, the ACLU is taking legal action in federal court to try and delay the recall election for five months, citing the punch card ballots as defective. The ACLU says those machines would deny 40,000 Californians a right to vote. A judge is expected to hear this case next Monday -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Just gets more complex. Dan Lothian, thanks very much.

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