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Punch cards keep punch lines alive

September 16, 2003|Roy Rivenburg | Times Staff Writer

In a ruling that was hailed by comedians across the land, a panel of judges has decided that California's recall-o-rama is so entertaining that it should be extended for five more months.

The federal appeals court said the state's punch-card voting machines are too antiquated and unreliable to be used.

In a related ruling, the judges also threw out the results of every election since 1964, when the machines were introduced.

"Every officeholder voted in by using punch-card ballot machines will have to run again," the judges said. "The only downside is that we can't recall ourselves as well."

According to, the court's decision to delay the Oct. 7 recall vote relied on a heretofore unknown section of the 14th Amendment that reads:

"No state shall ... use punch-card ballots ... in any specially called election against a Democrat incumbent. Nothing in this section shall preclude such state from using punch-card ballots to reelect said Democrat in a regularly scheduled election."

The Web site said the case was a victory for the American Civil Liberties Union, "a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party."

But the ruling was good news for late-night comics, who were worried their recall joke goldmine would run out.

As an added comedy bonus, Jesse Jackson said he would come to California today to campaign against the recall -- at least until he has time to become a resident and run for governor himself.


Raising the bar

While the major candidates try to one-up each other over snoozer issues like taxes and immigration, the fringe candidates are duking it out over more meaningful matters, such as when to close taverns.

In August, bar owner Reva Renee Renz suggested a law extending last call to 3 a.m.

Not to be outdone, porno princess Mary Carey is now pledging to keep the liquor flowing till 4 a.m.


Quote of the day

From pro-cigarette candidate Ned Roscoe, telling the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin about his own vices: "I tell my children that I'll start to smoke, drink and play poker when I'm older. It takes 20 to 30 years to get cancer. It's a matter of picking the right time to start."


Late-night blotter

"Peter Ueberroth has dropped out of the recall race. You can understand why. He pays his taxes, he doesn't take money from Indian casinos, he's never had sex with three women at once. How can he compete?" (Jay Leno)

"Something is drastically wrong in this state when it's easier to get a California driver's license than it is to rent a video at Blockbuster. You need two forms of ID there." (Leno)

"Bill Clinton is in California helping Gov. Gray Davis campaign. Because, you know, nothing makes more sense than a recalled governor getting advice from an impeached president." (David Letterman)

"Fall is in the air. Earlier today, Arnold Schwarzenegger was hit with a pumpkin." (Letterman)


"Recall Madness" runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in Calendar. E-mail roy.rivenburg@latimes .com. To view past columns, visit /recallmadness.

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