Recall Delay

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I am outraged that the liberal Ninth Circuit would dare say that voting machines that were good enough to elect Gray Davis are not good enough to recall him. Those judges should be recalled too.

OK, that's what I imagine many of you thought I might say, being a conservative Republican and ex-Californian who voted for Bush and supports defeating Davis. But no, I essentially agree with the decision.

I've not read the decision, but I've read about it, and as I understand it, the court asserts that certain balloting systems which have -- since the most recent election -- been legally determined as inadequate. It would be one thing if the reliability of the systems were not already judged as inadequate, but that has already happened. At this point, it is a matter of fact.

When the Bush campaign filed in federal court in November 2000, I was annoyed. I thought it was none of the federal court's business. That is, until I read the filing, when I was swayed by the simple argument that to recount some people's votes, but not others, or to apply different recount standards to different votes, would violate the Constitution.

And now we see the same basic thing happening in California. There are differences, of course.

The Supreme Court in 2000 did not say any balloting systems were unconstitutional, for example. However, that is unrelated to this decision here, as they have already been ruled as inadequate in a separate case.

Further, the Supreme Court in 2000 did not stop a vote, and likely would not have. But just because they did not in 2000, does not mean this court should not. The court is required to weigh competing principles: that of allowing the people to vote on their chosen day, and that of protecting the rights of a minority of voters. While the first principle is an important one, it is not significantly damaged, in my opinion, by making them wait, if the reason is a good one. And in this case, the reason is a fine one.

Most interestingly to me, the Supreme Court in 2000 allowed a legally defined date to dictate the boundaries in which the rights of the voters would be protected. In December 2000, the court ruled that despite potential irregularities, there was not the time to do whatever was necessary to get it "right," because the law set up the deadlines that needed to be hit. And here, the court is saying the opposite: that the legal deadlines should be overruled to make sure people's rights are not abridged.

But the difference in decision is magnified by the difference in consequence. By delaying the recall, you are delaying an essentially arbitrary date for an arbitrary vote, and the only negative consequence anyone can forsee is that the elected governor remains the governor for another few months.

By delaying the final tally in 2000, they would have been doing something far more significant, disrupting history, precedent, and possibly the functions of government themselves. It was a step the court was unwilling to take.

The delay wasn't worth it in 2000, but in my opinion, it is now.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on September 15, 2003 7:47 PM.

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