September 16, 2003

Ninth Circus

Robert Alt has an excellent summary of what the Ninth Circuit did, and why it will require the Supreme Court to revisit Bush vs. Gore. The key paragraphs:

Put simply, the Bush v. Gore ruling was not based on the fact that the counties used different voting systems. Rather, the Equal Protection claim rested on the fact that the Florida supreme court had forced a recall without providing safeguards — a brash act which led to similar punchcard ballots being counted differently even within the same county. It was this act of treating similar ballots differently which triggered the Equal Protection violation, not the fact that punchcards were used in one place and not in others.

Proponents of the Ninth Circuit's opinion will inevitably argue that the principle is the same — i.e., that voters are being treated differently from county-to-county. This fails to recognize that, while subject to error, the punchcard system is not so unreliable or "different" compared to other systems that it threatens the right to vote, or substantially dilutes votes from county-to-county. By contrast, Florida's different and changing standards concerning how much chad must be removed from similar punchcards for a ballot to qualify as a vote did undermine the rudimentary requirements of equal treatment.

Posted by dan at September 16, 2003 11:54 AM