LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA September 24, 2003
An 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals met to
reconsider the judicial decision stopping the October 7th recall
vote of Governor Gray Davis. The judges unanimously decided to
permit the vote to continue as originally scheduled.
On September 11, 2003, a federal appeals court panel had decided
that the recall election should be postponed because of the
continued use of punch-card ballots in the Californian electoral
The American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference and the Southwest Voter
Registration Education Project had gathered their forces to
stop the recall election. They brought in attorney Mark
Rosenbaum to argue their case for the postponement of the
October 7th election.
Mouthpiece Mark Rosenbaum argued that moving ahead with the
election posed a risk of potential discrimination against poor
and minority voters who may have difficulty with the punch-card
The Fox News website stated in a story, "Lawyers for civil rights
groups that wanted to stop the election argued that a statistical
study showed 40,000 poor and minority voters might have their
ballots excluded if punch-card ballots are used in the Oct. 7
The argument behind this case had rubbed me wrong since the
story originally broke.
Here is the deal.
The presidential elections in Florida in November of 2000 proved
that punch-cards are prone to errors.
Never before has it been so well-known that all of our voting
systems are known to have an intrinsic error rate in the 2-4%
range. No matter the voting system, there is an error rate to
be factored into the equation.
Honestly, how many of us had really ever considered the
likelihood of a certain percentage of our ballots ending up
in the trash bin?
The civil liberties groups, who purport to protect the right of
the disadvantaged and the minorities, have made the argument that
the poor and the minorities cannot be trusted to know how to use
the punch-card ballots properly, and therefore, their votes may
not be counted.
The thing that offended me about this argument is that the
groups who are supposed to be fighting for the rights of the
disadvantaged and the minorities are assuming that the people
that they are trying to protect do not have the basic common
sense to make sure that their votes will be counted.
To hear the argument of attorney Mark Rosenbaum, one would have
to come to the conclusion that the people he is arguing to
protect are simply too stupid to cast their votes properly. Mr.
Rosenbaum's clients fight against discrimination in every day
life, yet they give merit to the argument that the people for
whom they are dedicated to protect should be thought of as less
than capable of having the common sense ability to protect their
Did Mr. Rosenbaum's clients really believe that they were serving
the best interests of their constituents by suggesting that we
the people should have looked down upon the intelligence of
Who is to say that the people who have fouled up the ballots
are the disadvantaged poor and the minorities? Can that idea
be proven? How could they make that argument with a straight
face and a restful conscience? Who is to say that the
disadvantaged and the minorities are really the ones messing
this electoral process up?
What about that rich guy who is in a hurry to get in and get
out of the voting booth? What about that suburban mother who is
hearing her children scream a fit in the background while she is
trying to vote? What about the average Joe who has 30 minutes for
lunch and wishes to cast a ballot during lunch --- thinking ahead
to what he will order from the drive-through, while he is in the
voting booth? Could it be that they are really the ones leaving
the "hanging chads" on the ballots?
Sure, punch-cards are less than ideal. Yet the fact that most
voting systems have an error rate of 2-4% is even more disturbing.
Are my own votes being counted? Who is to say?
I have been in a hurry while in the voting booth, myself. I even
know that a couple of years back, I screwed up and voted for the
wrong person. I know that because I remember the conversation I
had with one of the voting monitors about it. If I was to throw
away the ballot and get another one, I would have screwed up
everyone's vote at that location. It's funny you know --- I am
neither poor nor a minority. I am actually educated --- and yet
I screwed up my own vote at one time.
If you haven't yet figured it out, I am offended by the fact that
the people sworn to protect the poor and the minorities of our
country have taken to the argument that their constituencies
cannot be trusted to cast a ballot correctly using a punch-card
Jay Leno and the other comedians have jokes galore about voters
who foul up this simple electoral process.
The plaintiff's in this case desired for us to assume that their
constituents are the ones who are fouling up in the voting booth.
The civil liberties groups, who fight for the right's of the
disadvantaged poor and minorities, wanted us to believe that we
should really be laughing at their constituency.
That is just wrong! Pure and simple!