For those who care, California will conduct its gubernatorial recall election in two weeks as originally scheduled. A federal appeals court in California unanimously reinstated the Oct. 7 recall vote just a week after a three-judge panel had postponed the vote citing concerns of punch card ballots to be used in dozens of inner city precincts.
Now that the court has settled the case and the American Civil Liberties Union has dropped its appeal, the recall of California Gov. Gray Davis will go on as scheduled.
Once the recall is complete, America can turn its attention to other key issues of the day, including the Kobe Bryant trial, the Laci Peterson saga and the new season of “Survivor.”
The ACLU suit was a last ditch effort to postpone the recall election and they appeared to have succeeded last week when judges with the appeals court of the 9th Federal Circus postponed the vote.
While the ACLU does some fine work protecting the constitutional rights of Americans, the group really exposed itself in California as the attack dog of an embattled Democrat governor.
The three-judge panel cited concerns over possible “hanging chads” that dogged the 2000 presidential election in Florida. While the punch cards are prone to error, most election officials are aware of the weaknesses in the system and results should be better this time around. Plus, if the court is allowed to postpone elections based on speculative rates of error, than any future election is open to delays and manipulation from hostile courts.
The recall to kick Davis out of office was done well within the constitutional bounds of California election law. The choice to be made by the Golden State’s voters in two weeks will include a two-part ballot. Voters must decide (yes or no) whether Davis should be recalled. If a voter favors the recall, he or she can then choose from a list of more than 100 candidates seeking to replace Davis. This includes Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante along with Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Tom McClintock and 132 others.
The dynamics of the recall are complex. If voters (in supporting Davis) vote “no” on the recall, their voting is complete. If enough voters (but less than 50 percent) vote against the recall it would cut into Bustamante’s Democratic support.
This means Democrat Bustamante would have to encourage voters to kick his boss out of office in order to gain full party support. For the Republicans, meanwhile, experts believe that the popular Schwarzenegger and the more conservative McClintock could split the GOP vote, enabling Bustamante to win the recall election. McClintock is well behind Schwarzenegger in the polls, but he holds a significant voting block of conservative California voters.
In the end, the winner may receive less than 40 percent of the vote. Twenty-five percent is a big possibility.
It won’t be a pretty election and most voters will be unhappy with the result. The problem, however, isn’t with the recall. The problem is with California’s constitution. Amending it should one of the first priorities for whoever wins.