California Recall Delayed for 6 months until March 2, 2004 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals:
On October 7, 2003, California voters will be asked to cast a ballot on some of the most important issues facing the State, including an unprecedented vote on the recall of a governor. However, forty-four percent of the electorate will be forced to use a voting system so flawed that the Secretary of State has officially deemed it "unacceptable" and banned its use in all future elections. The inherent defects in the system are such that approximately 40,000 voters who travel to the polls and cast their ballot will not have their vote counted at all. Compounding the problem is the fact that approximately a quarter of the state’s polling places will not be operational because election officials have insufficient time to get them ready for the special election, and that the sheer number of gubernatorial candidates will make the antiquated voting system far more difficult to use.
Plaintiffs allege that the use of the obsolete voting systems in some counties rather than others will deny voters equal protection of the laws in violation of the United States Constitution. They seek to postpone the vote until the next regularly scheduled statewide election six months from now, when the Secretary of State has 3 assured that all counties will be using acceptable voting equipment, and all the polls will be open. We agree that the issuance of a preliminary injunction is warranted and reverse the order of the district court.
Read the complete decision : California Recall Delayed
August 7, 2003 - ACLU challenges use of punch card voting machines in California recall election
The ACLU of Southern California and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles today charging that the use of outdated and obsolete punch card voting machines, the same machines at the center of the controversy surrounding the contested 2000 presidential election in Florida, will needlessly and unlawfully disenfranchise African-American, Latino, and Asian-American voters in counties where such machines are still in use.
Following the contested presidential election of 2000, the ACLU-SC and the ACLU-NC filed suit against the state of California, claiming that use of punch card machines in some counties violated the constitutional principle of equal protection and the Voting Rights Act. The state entered into a consent decree, whereby it agreed to replace all "punch card" voting machines in use by the March 2004 primary election.
"The ACLU of Northern California takes no position on the Governor's recall," said Dorothy Ehrlich, executive director of the ACLU-NC. "Our interest is in seeing to it that every voter will have his or her vote counted accurately. Especially in this election, with Proposition 54 on the ballot-an initiative that threatens the health, safety and civil rights of every Californian--it is more crucial that communities of color have their say. If we do not fix this problem, that will be impossible."
The suit asks the court to delay the election until March 2004, when all counties will have more reliable voting technology.
As many as 8 million voters could be at the mercy of the defective VotoMatic or Pollstar machines. At least six counties in the state (Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Clara, Solano, and Mendocino) are certain to use punch card voting machines if the election takes place on October 7, 2003.
In the November 2000 presidential election, the error rate for the "punch card" machines was more than double that of any other system used in the state. "Votomatic" or "Pollstar" machines accounted for 74.8% of all ballots cast that did not register a vote for president in California.
"If the October election goes forward, we can predict with absolute certainty that every Californian's vote will not count," said Margaret Crosby, staff attorney of the ACLU-NC. "Democracy in California should not hang by a chad."