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The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals canceled California’s recall election Monday morning, citing the risk of a post-election mess to rival the 2000 Florida debacle. “The choice between holding a hurried, constitutionally infirm election and one held a short time later that assures voters that the ‘rudimentary requirements of equal treatment and fundamental fairness are satisfied’ is clear,” the court wrote in a unanimous, unsigned opinion that quoted liberally from the Supreme Court’s Bush v. Goredecision. “These issues are better resolved prophylactically than by bitter, post-election litigation over the legitimacy of the election, particularly where the margin of voting machine error may well exceed the margin of victory.” The court stayed its ruling for seven days to give the parties a chance to appeal, which the state has already promised to do. At issue is the use of punch-card machines similar to those used in Florida. In 2001, the state signed an agreement to eliminate them before the general election in March. But the accelerated recall meant that six counties, comprising 44 percent of the population, would have used punch cards instead of newer, more accurate machines, at the Oct. 7 special election. “Thus, the effect of using punch-card voting systems in some, but not all, counties, is to discriminate on the basis of geographic residence,” the court wrote. “This is a classic voting rights equal protection claim,” the court wrote. The panel consisted of Judges Harry Pregerson, Sidney Thomas and Richard Paez. The opinion can be found at: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/ newopinions.nsf/24CB44D4ABF7AFD088256DA2005DA6D6/$file/0356498.pdf?openelement .

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