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Conyers Requests Federal Observers to Watch Over Recall

On the eve of the California recall election, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee has written to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging him to dispatch federal election observers to ensure a fair election in the Golden State on Tuesday.

“It is my urgent belief that federal investigators are critical to a fair and just election process, and that without their immediate oversight and intervention, California will suffer irreparable damage equal to the debacle of Florida during the 2000 Presidential election,” Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) wrote in a letter to Ashcroft delivered Monday morning.

Conyers has been in California with fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus for the past few days, observing the state’s preparations for the historic recall election and stumping against the effort to remove Gov. Gray Davis (D) from office.

In his letter, the Congressman told Ashcroft that he was moved to write after talking to scores of voters who expressed concerns about whether the election could take place without major glitches occurring. Election officials are using old balloting methods that the state intends to replace in time for the 2004 elections, and the ballot is complicated by the fact that it lists the names of 135 candidates seeking to replace Davis.

Jorge Martinez, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said he could not comment on Conyers’ letter or whether the agency would send poll watchers to California.

“If we were to send observers anywhere we would announce it in the appropriate fashion,” he said.

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