San Francisco, Sept. 15 (Agencies): The 9th circuit court of appeals issued a preliminary injunction today stopping California’s October 7 gubernatorial recall election, in the latest unexpected twist of the unprecedented ballot to decide whether governor Gray Davis remains in office.
“The secretary of state is enjoined from conducting an election on any issue on October 7, 2003,” a three-judge panel ruled today.
The court stayed its order for seven days to allow the parties to appeal the decision to the US supreme court.
The decision by the judges in Pasadena was based on claims that the state’s ageing punch-card voting system — the same type that caused electoral chaos in Florida during the 2000 presidential election — was error-prone and could distort the vote.
The judges said that uneven voting systems could cause a violation of the 14th amendment of the US constitution.
“Plaintiffs’ claim represents almost precisely the same issue as the court considered in (Bush v. Gore in Florida) “whether unequal methods of counting votes ... constitutes a violation of the equal protection clause.
“No voting system is foolproof and the constitution does not demand the use of the best technology available. However what the constitution does require is equal treatment of votes cast in the manner that comports with the equal protection clause,” they wrote in a 66-page decision.
They said it was “virtually undisputed” that the pre-scored punch-card system, which is being phased out but is still in use in some California counties, was more prone to error than the other voting system used in the state.
The October 7 election, which Democrat Davis and his supporters have tried desperately to delay until March next year in the hope that a longer run-up would favour his party, was triggered by Republican opponents.