LOS ANGELES – The California secretary of state said counties have verified more than a third of the signatures needed to force an election to recall Gov. Gray Davis (search).
Kevin Shelley's office announced on its Web site that 390,759 of the 988,116 signatures counties have reported receiving so far were verified as coming from registered California voters.
The announcement late Monday comes as an appeals court was set to review a request by Davis supporters to stop Shelley from certifying a recall election that seemed increasingly likely to qualify for the ballot Wednesday.
Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall (search) claim the recall movement was fraught with signature-gathering illegalities, including the use of petition circulators who were not properly registered to vote in California.
"Unless this court intervenes, the state of California will soon be preparing for a statewide recall election purchased with the help of out-of-state signature-gatherers who lied under oath on the petitions they submitted," the group said in its petition filed Monday with the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
The move came after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Friday denied Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall's request for a temporary restraining order. The group seeks a similar order and a stay against the certification from the appellate court.
Recall backers say they have turned in more than 1.6 million signatures and expect counties to report more than the needed 897,158 valid signatures to Shelley by a Wednesday deadline.
Counties verify signatures by checking 3 percent of them against voter rolls. If the totals they report Wednesday indicate the recall has collected more than 110 percent of the 897,158 valid signatures required, Shelley will certify that it has qualified.
The lieutenant governor would then call an election for within 60 to 80 days, possibly as early as Sept. 30.
A recall ballot would ask voters to vote yes or no on recalling Davis, and would then give a list of candidates to replace him. If the recall succeeded, the candidate with the most votes would replace Davis, regardless of his or her percentage of the overall votes.
Recall proponents denied signature-gathering illegalities and predicted the legal maneuvering would fail.
Davis has been battered by voter wrath over the state's record budget deficit and his approval ratings are in the low-20s. He would become the first California governor ever to undergo a recall election.
The only declared major party candidate is Rep. Darrell Issa (search), R-Vista, who funded the recall drive. The state's major Democratic officeholders have said they don't intend to run.
Arnold Schwarzenneger has remained coy about his intentions, but a political adviser said Monday that the actor seems ready to run.