Appeals court postpones Calif. recall election. That could mean five more months of campaigning for Schwarzenegger, Coleman, Huffington, and the rest

By Gary Susman
September 15, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

We may have to endure an additional five months of sloganeering from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gary Coleman, Arianna Huffington, porn actress Mary Carey, and the 130 less famous candidates for the California governor’s seat, thanks to federal appeals court ruling handed down on Monday. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s recall election cannot take place as scheduled on Oct. 7 because voters in several counties would still have to use old-fashioned punch-card voting machines, the kind that are prone to the hanging-chad ambiguities that drove the legal morass in Florida after the 2000 presidential election. The decision could postpone the election until March, by which time the old machines are due to be replaced.

The court agreed with the electoral challenge filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that the punch-card machines, used in six counties representing 44 percent of voters, were prone to error and would effectively disenfranchise nearly half the state’s voters. However, the court issued a stay on implementing the decision for a week, pending an appeal by recall backers to the U.S. Supreme Court. No reaction yet to the ruling from any of the candidates, but they must be pleased; an additional five months would give just about all of them enough time to get booked on Howard Stern’s show.