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Article Posted: September 15, 2003


Historic Recall Delayed

SAN FRANCISCO - Monday, September 15 - A federal appeals court has postponed the October 7, 2003 Gubernatorial Recall Election, ruling that the historic vote could not proceed because some votes would be cast using outdated punch-card ballot machines.

A three Judge panel of the 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed a week for appeals to be filed to the Supreme Court. California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley responded to the ruling and said he would seek the counsel of Attorney General Bill Lockyer and then would offer a timeline for a decision on whether the state would appeal.

In the ruling, the panel agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that punch-card ballot voting machines were prone to error. The panel reported that it was not acceptable for 6 of California’s 58 counties to use punch-card ballots, the same machines that were at the center the 2000 Presidential Election controversy in Florida.

The Court Stated:

In sum, in assessing the public interest, the balance falls heavily in favor of postponing the election for a few months… We would be remiss if we did not observe that this is a critical time in our nation’s history when we are attempting to persuade the people of other nations of the value of free and open elections. Thus we are especially mindful of the need to demonstrate our commitment to elections held fairly, free of chaos, with each citizen assured that his or her vote will be counted and with each vote entitled to equal weight. A short postponement of the election will accomplish those aims and reinforce our national commitment to democracy.

If the postponement stands, the recall election will likely be pushed back to March 2, 2004, the date of the regularly scheduled state primary election.

Supporters of the recall have already filed an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

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