LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today issued a decision in the case of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project v. Shelley, also known as the 'punch card' voting machines case. In victory for California voters, the court ordered the postponement of the California recall election until all California counties complete the transition away from faulty and decertified 'punch card' voting machines. The plaintiffs, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, the NAACP, California State Conference of Branches, and the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project had filed suit against California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley over the continued use of decertified 'punch card' voting machines in the upcoming recall election.
The ACLU/SC argued that the continued use of obsolete, decertified 'punch card' voting machines, the same ones at the center of the Florida 2000 election controversy, in six California counties would have the effect of disenfranchising voters in those counties, including urban areas with large concentrations of minority voters.
'This is a victory for California voters,' said Alice Huffman, president of the NAACP, California State Conference of Branches. 'California voters deserve to go to the polls with the knowledge that their votes will be counted. We can't afford a repeat of the 2000 Florida election debacle.'
The state of California has already conceded that the machines are obsolete and because of a previous ACLU/SC suit are scheduled to be replaced by March 2004.
'Today's court decision represents a victory for democracy and fairness,' said Antonio Gonzalez, executive director of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. 'Rather than proceeding with an election that would have made Florida 2000 look like a festival of democracy, the court has prudently decided to wait until the election can be conducted right by replacing the outdated voting machines and helping to insure that proper financing is available to conduct a fair and transparent election.'
Currently, six California counties continue to use outdate, decertified, 'punch card' voting machines. The six counties are: Los Angeles, Mendocino, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Clara, and Solano.
'The ACLU/SC does not take a position on the California recall, our interest is in seeing that every single Californian goes to the polls with the confidence that his or her vote will be counted,' said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU/SC. 'This is a victory for democracy and for California voters. The message is clear: we must not sacrifice political equality in favor of political expediency.'