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Recall Abuse?
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Thirty-Four
by Brian S. Wise
19 September 2003Butterfly Ballot

The ACLU couldn't care less about "disenfranchised voters," this is about protecting Gray Davis.

Suppose last Monday you had the opportunity to bet the under on the amount of time before the Ninth Circuit’s California recall decision is reversed (either by the Ninth Circuit in its entirety or the Supreme Court), would you have?  You would have been a fool not to: the Supreme Court reverses so many verdicts coming from the Ninth Circuit, it should consider printing a standard form specifically for the purpose.  We will suppose, because 750 words need to be produced today, the recall is successfully pushed forward to March 2004; what motivated that effort and what does it mean?

If you accept the theory there is a continuing conspiracy on the part of the Right directed against the Left--and that it comes in forms like the California recall, Texas redistricting, Florida 2000, et cetera--then you easily see the point behind the ACLU filing the lawsuit, so a blow could be struck for equality among all voters.  Of course, if you believe in the conspiracy you are in direct opposition to Bill Clinton, who suggested to Los Angeles Times reporter Greg Jones this week there cannot be a conspiracy because “a conspiracy is something that’s secret.”  He has a point.  Conspiracies involve things like dead people voting for JFK in Chicago circa 1960, or presidents who commit and suborn perjury, cover-up, manipulate evidence, collect a veritable “enemies list” of FBI files of those who oppose them, send the IRS to audit someone who is suing them, and so forth.  Following a State’s Constitution in the matter of recall, no matter the motivation, is right out there in the open, therefore conspiracy is unlikely.

We are told the ACLU acted on behalf of disenfranchised voters in six counties (“disenfranchised” is code for “blacks and Hispanics”) who, through no fault of their own, would be forced to participate in the recall election using the same sort of disastrous contraptions that lead to Florida 2000, the recounts, the pregnant chads, et cetera.  Except that, as Jerry Brown noted on Hardball Tuesday night, California is not Florida.  (So there is good news in all of this for Florida.)  More to the point, “I was Secretary of State, the chairman of the Voting Machine Commission.  I’ve seen this vote-a-matic and other punch card systems.  We’ve had thousands of elections over the last 40 years.  I’ve never heard of anybody winning an election based on the claim that a significant percentage of people were denied their right to vote.  As a matter of fact, in Alameda County, I checked with the registrar today, the error rate, or the non-count rate of about 2 percent, a little more than that, the vote-a-matic machine provides or creates is below the national average.” 

So not only is there a national error and non-count rate involving all types of voting machines (a fact obviously not known by many people), but the California machines at the heart of the argument produce fewer errors and non-counts than is the national average, with not a single California controversy to their credit.  That is interesting insight coming from Jerry Brown, the Democratic mayor of Oakland, who is against the recall.  Now consider that it is impossible to predict when and if these machines will fail and, even if they do, what the race of the person inside the booth will be at the time of the preordained failure, and therefore it cannot be said with certainty that a disproportionate percentage of blacks and Hispanics would be aggrieved.  Now consider these were the exact same machines used to re-elect Gray Davis 10 months ago without even the slightest incident or suggestion of impropriety … what you begin to see is that this is less about protecting “disenfranchised voters”--who the ACLU could not give a damn about unless their disenfranchisement comes to some benefit of Leftism--and more about protecting a terrible governor.

It is instructive to know that not long after the Florida 2000 mess, the exact same butterfly ballot blamed for the chaos was altered--the names of the candidates were changed to those of cartoon characters--and then distributed to public school third graders, who had little trouble “voting” for their favorite character.  The implication, one now supported in part by the Ninth Circuit, is the alleged disenfranchised voters in California are not smarter than third graders in Florida, and so more time is needed to bring in “foolproof” machines so no mistakes can be made (e.g., a Republican being elected).

Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com.

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