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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The 9th Circuit, sitting en banc, was uninous in AFFIRMING the district court's denial of an injunction halting the CA recall for October. This means it will go ahead as scheduled. Some key points to:

  • Plaintiffs allege that punch-card machines result in an average combined “residual
    vote rate” of 2.23%. Residual votes consist of “overvotes” (ballots disqualified
    because they are read by the machine as containing more than one vote on a single candidate contest or initiative issue) and “undervotes” (ballots read by the machine as not containing a vote). While residual votes may be caused by factors other than machine error — including a voter’s affirmative choice not to vote on any particular candidate or initiative — plaintiffs allege that the residual vote rate of punch-card machines is, on average, twice that experienced when other voting technologies are used. (Yep, the ACLU wants to block all democracy because by their own estimate, only 98% of people can vote sucessfully...)
  • There is no doubt that the right to vote is fundamental, but a federal court cannot lightly interfere with or enjoin a state election. The decision to enjoin an impending election is so serious that the Supreme Court has allowed elections to go forward even in the face of an undisputed constitutional violation.
  • "...the precise equal protection claim raised here...is one over which reasonable jurists may differ....local entities, in the exercise of their expertise, may develop different systems for implementing elections.”
  • Interference with impending elections is extraordinary and interference with an election after voting has begun is unprecedented (Hundreds of thousands of absentee votes have already been cast)
  • If the election is postponed, citizens who have already cast a vote will effectively be told that the vote does not count and that they must vote again.
  • We are reluctant to intercede in ballot timing of the initiatives, an electoral matter that falls within the province of the state to determine.
Read the opinion here.

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