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Thursday, September 18, 2003

Rider on the Storm

Will Vehrs
Tony, thanks to Isabel and the judgement of Virginia Governor Mark Warner, I didn't have to go to work today. I slept in this morning until an unheard of 8AM, awakening to intermittent rain and mild wind gusts.

Now the rain has been falling hard for several hours and the wind gusts are increasing in intensity by the minute. The crack Richmond, VA weather forecasters say we're in for a rough next 12-24 hours.

I've spent the day reading Gregg Easterbrook, who tells me Hurricane Isabel is over-hyped, watching a huge Bradford Pear tree that I doubt will survive this overrated storm, and playing Scrabble with daughter Catie. I have to say that I am becoming a big fan of Easterbrook's new blog. He seems to have something original and provocative every day. Of course, like everyone else, he does a bit of recycling from blog to other paid work and vice versa.

I'm also following the Wesley Clark entry into the Democratic presidential race. In my estimation, Clark joins Howard Dean as a "boutique" candidate, appealing to a relatively narrow, but passionate group of the overall narrow group of passionate Democrats who live for primary season. Dean's "boutique" is the "hip" one right now and it'll be hard to pry customers away. Clark probably needs to get substantive fast, lest he fall prey to what seems to be killing Arnold in California--lack of specificity in addressing the major issues of the day. The press, major arbiter of the contest so far, looks askance at mere homilies.

Where are you on the resume-laden General Clark, Tony? And are you riding the storm, too?

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

ACLU Punchcard Complaints...

Tony Adragna
See updates below

Since the ACLU's original complaint against California's voting system — on Equal Protection & Voting Rights Act claims — was filed in April 2001, and the Secretary of State decertified the Votomatic-type machines & agreed to a consent decree to replace them by the March 2004 primary, I must object to the intimation that the current complaint is disingenuous.

And because the Oct 7 date would mean not just reliance on the unreliable system, but also access problems vis a vis lots of regular polling places not being available, I'm havving to agree with the ACLU here.

I want the recal to go forward, but I want it done properly..

Will Replies ....Good catch, as usual, Tony, but it still seems a stretch to me that a November 2002 election was okay to proceed under the terms of the consent decree but an October 2003 election is not. I think there's a lot of value in the Volokh observation that we don't know how reliable the new system will be versus the alleged known unreliability of punch cards.

It would be better to try out the new, untested voting system in a March Democratic primary than in a combination March recall/primary election, IMHO. New-fangled machinery doesn't always work out the way it's supposed to, especially the first time around.

Tony's rebuttal: The short answer, Will, is that the ACLU won't cede that '02 results were OK, but there was practically no remedy availabe at that time — a general election isn't so easily postponed 'til machines are replaced if it's gonna take a year or more to replace the machines. The best that could be got was the state's enforcable agreement to correct the defective voting system in a reasonable amount of time...

The 9th Circuit's opinion actually addresses the question of why injunctive relief places less burden on the state in the case of a special election, and that has some bearing on why the panel came down where it did.

It's much worth noting at this point that the panel didn't decide that the vote can't take place 'til March '04. All they did was enjoin the state from holding the election on Oct. 7, but if the District Court can find a way to make it happen between those two dates, then it can still go forward...

Monday, September 15, 2003


Will Vehrs
I'm having a hard time understanding how the voting method used to elect California Governor Gray Davis--punch card--is suddenly unconstitutional for recall voting. Did the ACLU have a problem with Davis' election or re-election?