How votes in the November 2004 general election will be counted broke into the news recently when California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley banned the use of 14,000 touch-screen voting machines because of security and reliability concerns. He "decertified" 28,000 others until steps are taken to upgrade their security.
Shelley declared all touch-screens "defective or unacceptable" because they provide no "meaningful recount of the vote" and are unsecure, unstable and technologically demanding for poll workers.
That's quite a slap at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the same court that ruled 3-0 in 2003 that the California recall election should have been postponed because there was a likelihood that the American Civil Liberties Union could prove in a trial that the new touch-screen voting machines would be more accurate than the system California had used for decades.
That's what the judges said, but with the recall election already under way and absentee ballots being counted, everyone knew that the real reason the court tried to postpone the election was to help save former California Gov. Gray Davis from political liquidation.
To try to justify their decision, the 9th Circuit Court judges said the recall should be suspended in order for the United States to show "our commitment to elections held fairly, free of chaos" at a critical time when we are trying to persuade people of other nations of the value of free and open elections. The implication was that if California didn't postpone the recall to give time to install touch-screen machines, America would be setting a bad example for Iraq and Afghanistan.
As further justification for their reasoning, the 9th Circuit Court judges used meaningless buzzwords to suggest that California urgently needed a new high-tech voting system. The court's decision stated "the fundamental right to have votes counted in the special recall election is infringed because the pre-scored punch-card voting systems used in some California counties are intractably afflicted with technologic dyscalculia."
It really was the activist judges who were afflicted with the urge to render a political decision to help the Democrats, and the touch-screen system that was afflicted with the problem of counting the ballots accurately. Shelley said that the touch-screen machines "jeopardized the outcome" of the March 2004 California primary election because thousands of San Diego voters were turned away from polling places when touch-screen machines malfunctioned.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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