California Gubernatorial Recall Election - Recall Election - Election Logistics - Punch Card Ballots

Punch Card Ballots

A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claimed that the use of the "hanging chad" style punch-card ballots still in use in six California counties (Los Angeles, Mendocino, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Clara, and Solano) were in violation of fair election laws. U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson in Los Angeles ruled on August 20 that the election would not be delayed because of the punch-card ballots. The ruling was appealed, and heard by three judges in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On September 15 the judges issued a unanimous ruling postponing the recall election until March 2004 on the grounds that the existence of allegedly obsolete voting equipment in some counties violated equal protection, thus overruling the lower district court which had rejected this argument.

Recall proponents questioned why punch-card ballots were adequate enough to elect Governor Davis, but were not good enough to recall him. Proponents planned to appeal the postponement to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, an 11-judge panel, also from the ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals quickly gathered to rehear the controversial case. On the morning of September 23, the panel reversed the three-judge ruling in a unanimous decision, arguing that the concerns about the punch-card ballots were outweighed by the harm that would be done by postponing the election.

Further legal appeals were discussed but did not occur. The ACLU announced it would not make an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Davis was widely quoted in the press as saying "Let's just get it over with." Thus the election proceeded as planned on October 7.

Read more about this topic:  California Gubernatorial Recall Election, Recall Election, Election Logistics

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