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California Recall
September 15, 2003 10:42 AM   Subscribe

9th Circuit Court blocks California Recall Election because six counties would be using outdated punch-card ballots. Perhaps the court should have paid a visit to the Black Box Voting web site to look at all the problems surfacing with the Electronic Voting machines.
posted by thedailygrowl (42 comments total)

 
Who knows what's next, but this particular court has a history of being reviewed and overturned by the US Supreme Court.

"..on the whole, the 9th Circuit’s rulings accounted for more reversals this past term than all the state courts across the country combined and represented nearly half of the overturned judgments (45%) of the federal appellate courts." (via Center for Individual Freedom Foundation)
posted by msacheson at 11:00 AM on September 15, 2003


Ack... As much as I agree with the decision, does it really have to take months to get some new machines in? How many more millions of dollars that California doesn't have to throw away are going to be spent now?
posted by badstone at 11:01 AM on September 15, 2003


If the Presidency could be decided using punch ballots, surely they can handle a measly recall election. Geesh.
posted by eas98 at 11:05 AM on September 15, 2003


Damn judges. Have they no fear of the Patriot Act?
posted by a3matrix at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2003


"How dare those liberal justices subvert democracy by blocking our subversion of democracy!"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:15 AM on September 15, 2003


This is just a foul plot to prevent the future governor of California from assuming her position. Bastards.
posted by homunculus at 11:16 AM on September 15, 2003


The decision seems to lean pretty heavily on Bush v. Gore. That might make a Supreme Court reversal considerably less likely.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:19 AM on September 15, 2003


Or perhaps they already investigated the site and realized that, since 44% of the voting population would be using an accountable form of voting, the vote couldn't be as easily subverted and instead are now putting pressure on those counties to use other, more easily manipulated means of vote tracking.
posted by FormlessOne at 11:30 AM on September 15, 2003


From the pornstar:


A room will be decorated in the Capitol building, for anyone who wishes to spend the night and get a personal tour of the building hosted by Angelyne for the amount of $10,000.00.
posted by a3matrix at 11:36 AM on September 15, 2003


It's obvious that this ruling, should it stand, will all but guarantee Davis stays governor. Likely the vote will be rescheduled for the day already established as the point of the newer machines being ready- the March Democratic primary. Assuming the DNC candidate hasn't become a lock by then, there will be an overwhelming turnout of Democratic voters that day.

And I agree that the Supreme Court won't touch this- the last thing George W. Bush needs a year before the election is a reminder of how he got to be president in the first place.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:37 AM on September 15, 2003


Now we see the reason Scalia and his cronies tried to confine their tortured interpetation of equal protection to Gore v Bush -- they knew they were trashing the constitution for partisan political reasons. Now it's coming back to haunt them. Karma's a bitch, hehhhehhe-he ...
posted by RavinDave at 11:39 AM on September 15, 2003


Funny, they didn't seem to have a problem with this when these machines were used to *elect* Davis.

Ah, I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning...
posted by hadashi at 11:50 AM on September 15, 2003


Certainly Arnold now will have ample opportunity to explain in explicit terms and numbers his plan to "Bring Back California." I look forward to a more intelligent and informative election.
posted by squirrel at 11:51 AM on September 15, 2003


Now we see the reason Scalia and his cronies tried to confine their tortured interpetation of equal protection to Gore v Bush

7 of the 9 justices found equal protection violations
posted by probablysteve at 11:54 AM on September 15, 2003


Here's a PDF of the decision.
posted by dejah420 at 11:55 AM on September 15, 2003


7 of the 9 justices found equal protection violations

And they mocked that very same notion when it had been initially proffered by the Bushies a scant few weeks earlier. Why do you suppose it suddenly became viable?
posted by RavinDave at 11:58 AM on September 15, 2003


i think the higher court's sort of owed the country a little bit since bush v gore.

thank you higher court.
posted by Peter H at 12:36 PM on September 15, 2003


From the pornstar

Do you mean Angelyne? I don't think she's ever been involved in pornography. She mostly does billboards.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:45 PM on September 15, 2003


Mary Carey is the porn star.
posted by homunculus at 1:03 PM on September 15, 2003


Can someone CA-side explain a little something..?

A reporter on UK radio recently made the point that the problem Davis had/has with the state budget is in part down to a statute preventing a CA governor from raising property taxes that was voter-approved not so long ago. Any opinions/further info on this?
posted by i_cola at 1:22 PM on September 15, 2003


Good! Gives more time for these guys to enter the race!
posted by moonbird at 1:23 PM on September 15, 2003


In 1978, California voters approved proposition 13 which limited property taxes to 1% of the value of the property and limited the rise in assessed value to no more than 2% a year as long as the property is not sold. When the property is sold it can be reassessed at it's market value at the time of the sale.

It certainly wasn't a recent event.
posted by aenea at 1:38 PM on September 15, 2003


The CA property owners did this to themselves and are using their present governor as a scapegoat. When one doesn't wanna pay property taxes yet insists the government does all this stuff for'm, well either the money's gotta come from somewhere or the snit don't get done. Gimme a toothpick and tell me to build a house? I'll tell you where you can stuff that toothpick.

The emperor California property owners ain't wearin' no clothes. A vote postponement giving Davis a stay of execution? That ain't gonna fix their fashion problem.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:48 PM on September 15, 2003


Federal court.
State election.

Anyone else getting peeved?
posted by linux at 1:49 PM on September 15, 2003


i_Cola, the problems with the budget are caused by a bunch of reason, such as the following:

1. California's economy has tanked more than any other state. We benefited the most from the dot-com boom, and are hurting the most from the bust. People and businesses are leaving the state in droves, and in places like Silicon Valley, that used to provide oodles of tax dollars, isn't a cash cow anymore because no one is working or making $$. That's the largest reason why our deficit is so bad.
2. We are still paying off/for the raping we received last year by the power companies.
3. Our immigration rates are horrendous and growing, but the illegal immigrants still get many social services but pay no taxes to pay for them.
4. Yes, Prop 13 limits the property tax allowed, but it's not new at all and they've had to deal with this for a long time. It's not something new.
5. Our legislature must pass the budget with 66% majority, leading it to pass the buck year after year just to get the budget done-thereby pushing off the "day of reckoning" when we will have to pay, year after year.
6. We allow for a vast number of voter-led initiatives to be put on the ballot-(initiative are put on the ballot by obtaining by a certain number of voter signatures-Prop 13 was on of those...) that may not be in our best interest in the long run. Specifically, each election presents bond measures for voting (for schools, transportation, etc. etc. )that we pay interest on as a state and puts the State into greater debt. And they ALL pass. Every year.
7. Also from the initiatives, we have a large bulk of the budget that is mandated to specific parts of the budget every year (education-mostly) which makes it difficult to pay off/cut/manipulate the budget in a difficult year.

As for this stoppage of the recall, in the last election there was a huge mix of punch card and computer ballots. Why this? Why now? I'm against the recall and a member of the ACLU, but this is silly. As someone said above, why was this okay in the presidential election and the last election when Davis was elected, but not now? Why the concern now?

I think it's a load of crap. But not surprising from the SF court of appeals. They do this stuff all the time (but most of the time I agree with them!)
posted by aacheson at 2:00 PM on September 15, 2003


Federal court. State election. 14th Amendment.

Now we've got a historically prominent menage a trois.
posted by Wood at 2:42 PM on September 15, 2003


it will be very interesting to see how the supremes rule on this, or whether they agree to take it at all.
posted by amberglow at 2:48 PM on September 15, 2003


Why not just do it the way most other countries do it? Why the levers, punchcards, computers, etc.

Here's a sample ballot I propose:

MARK ONLY ONE (1) X IN THE BOX FOR THE CANDIDATE OF YOUR CHOICE:

( ) Joe Brown
    Libertarian Candidate

( ) Jay Jackson
    Marijuana Party

( ) Some Name
    Grey Party


Put it in a ballot box and you're done. How you could screw that up, beats the hell outta me.
posted by shepd at 2:49 PM on September 15, 2003


To quote from the decision:

"As the Supreme Court put it in Bush: The press of time does not diminish the constitutional concern. A desire for speed is not a general excuse for ignoring equal protection guarantees. The State has an interest in holding a fair election one trusted by the candidates and the voters to yield an accurate and unbiased result. The high error rate associated with the decertified machines to be used by 44 percent of the voters in October would undermine the public s confidence in the outcome of the election. The margin of victory could well be less than the margin of error in the use of punchcard technology. This would not be the case in an election held in March 2004, when all the obsolete machines will have been totally withdrawn from use."

This argument makes sense. With a small turnout split between two or three leading candidates and 100+ others you really could end up with an election in which the vote count is statistically meaningless. Should California go forward with an election knowing that it's probable that the election outcome has little do with the actual votes that were cast?

As for the question of why now it's only recently that the Supreme Court set minimum standards for the fairness of elections . Try as I might, I couldn't write that last sentence with a straight face.
posted by rdr at 2:49 PM on September 15, 2003


The CA property owners did this to themselves and are using their present governor as a scapegoat.

Yeah, that's California's problem. They're taxes are too low. Right...
posted by hadashi at 2:50 PM on September 15, 2003


Ugh. "Their", not "They're". I'm apparently too tired to post.
posted by hadashi at 2:51 PM on September 15, 2003


Ack... As much as I agree with the decision, does it really have to take months to get some new machines in? How many more millions of dollars that California doesn't have to throw away are going to be spent now?


None... the machines were already required to be in place by March. Assuming this doesn't get overturned, the recall will almost certainly be on the same ballot as the primary election, so the only additional cost will be some media expenses to tell people about the change. If anything this will save money, since we won't need 2 separate elections.

As for why this is different than last year, there was a decision in Common Cause et al v Jones that all voting machines must be upgraded by March 2004, following the Secretary of State's decision to decertify punch-card machines effective January 2006 (IOW, the court case moved the decertification date from 1/06 to 3/04). This lawsuit alleged that since the machines had been found to be unreliable by the Secretary of State, and since that had been implicitly upheld in Common Cause v Jones, that should apply to all elections after that decision (at the time, there was no knowledge there would be a recall election).

Anyway, there's more details to it than that, check the full text of the decision available at the LA Times website.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:52 PM on September 15, 2003


hadashi: Um, yes the court DID have a 'problem' when the machines were used to elect davis. SERIOUS problems. They RELUCTANTLY gave the counties until March 2004 to get the new machines in, because it takes that long to do it apparently.

DRE machines (touch screens) have their problems, but they beat 'hanging chads' any day.
posted by benh57 at 2:53 PM on September 15, 2003


Funny, they didn't seem to have a problem with this when these machines were used to *elect* Davis.

Possibly because there weren't 130-odd candidates then, presenting... well, issues, y'know? Or because polling stations have been mothballed since then, and it would take too long to get them running...? Or perhaps, just perhaps, because judicial rulings only come when people bring a court case, and the original Davis election was, um, unchallenged by the GOP. (And, yeah, what everyone just above said about the 2001 case.)

I love the smell of ignorance in the morning.
posted by riviera at 2:58 PM on September 15, 2003


Thanks for all the answers...interesting.
posted by i_cola at 3:18 PM on September 15, 2003


"Why this? Why now?"

Who cares? The whole principle behind this recall process is bullshit. IMHO anything that can torpedo the recall is a good thing. Allowing a "do over" if some random rich bastard doesn't like the results is the worst perversion of democracy I've encountered in a long time.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:49 PM on September 15, 2003


illegal immigrants still get many social services but pay no taxes to pay for them

You mean if I go to California, all I have to do to avoid paying sales tax is claim to be an illegal alien? SWEET! And my rent goes down to reflect my not paying property tax? DOUBLE PLUS SWEET!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:50 PM on September 15, 2003


Funny, they didn't seem to have a problem with this when these machines were used to *elect* Davis.

I used those old California machines years ago and they seemed to work okay--but they apparently have a different error rate than the new machines. Seems to me the issue is that half the state is using them, and the other half not, and the distribution is not random.

Thus the impact would likely be unfair. This is a reasonable and serious criticism.
posted by lathrop at 5:20 PM on September 15, 2003


3. Our immigration rates are horrendous and growing, but the illegal immigrants still get many social services but pay no taxes to pay for them.

So only getting paid 3 dollars an hour to do work that no American would do, keeping our agriculture business afloat and still having to pay sales tax and rent (thanx ROU), makes illegal immigrants somehow part of the problem? Sure, they're not paying income taxes but they're doing work that American's aren't (the minimum wage laws, as I understand, don't apply to agriculture). And (I can't find a link), but a study I heard said that for all the money used by illegal immigrants, they still create more economic output then citizens (percentage wise).

4. Yes, Prop 13 limits the property tax allowed, but it's not new at all and they've had to deal with this for a long time. It's not something new.

Yes, it's not new but that doesn't mean that it's not biting california in the ass. California, like you said, lives heavily off of business taxes yet when the economy dies, so does the money. And if the state can't raise the property tax, they've been elimanated a very powerful and effective way to generate income to keep the state running.

It seems to me that a lot of the problem is that the elected representatives aren't doing their job either. I say kick them all out and start over.
posted by Stynxno at 5:55 PM on September 15, 2003


Funny, they didn't seem to have a problem with this when these machines were used to *elect* Davis.

1965: Funny, they didn't seem to have a problem with this when they paid their poll taxes.
1954: Funny, they didn't seem to have a problem with this when the schools were segregated.
1920: Funny, they didn't seem to have a problem with this when the women couldn't vote.
1865: Funny, they didn't seem to have a problem with this when they were enslaved.

Progress and expansion of equality always makes things that happened in the past seem unacceptable. The present shouldn't be held up to the injust standards of the past.

The next battle: making computerized voting fair.
posted by stopgap at 6:45 PM on September 15, 2003


And if the state can't raise the property tax, they've been elimanated a very powerful and effective way to generate income to keep the state running.

Course, if the state raised the property taxes, a lot of the problems in california wouldn't be there anymore. Why? Because there'd be nobody left in the state. The insane real estate market in california has caused a lot of property to be "worth" far more than it was when it was bought, and the people living there can't afford to pay the higher property taxes. Now, I'm not arguing one way or the other on the whole Prop 13 issue, but I think blindly saying that raising property taxes would solve the issue is a little naive. It could quite possibly cause more problems than there are now.

(Incidentally I know of several states that have restrictions on property tax raises (Michigan has something similar, but I don't remember the specifics). It all comes down to people getting sick of the state deciding that it constantly wants a larger chunk of your money. Not everyone feels that just because a state wants more money it's entitled to it.)
posted by piper28 at 10:39 PM on September 15, 2003


Am I right in thinking that the winner of the recall election (whenever it happens) will be determined by simple plurality, meaning that a candidate could theoretically become governor with no more than 1% of the vote? The court should be looking into this problem also, which could potentially disenfranchise the vast majority of the electorate. The solutions include having a single transferable vote (instant runoff) or a two-stage process.

How on earth did US voting systems come to be so fucked up? I won't start with the potential problems of all-electronic voting. shepd has the answer to that.
posted by cbrody at 1:32 PM on September 16, 2003


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