San Francisco In an unusual step, the federal appeals court that turned California politics upside down by postponing the Oct. 7 recall election signaled Tuesday that it might be willing to reconsider.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asked California election officials and recall proponents to file briefs by this afternoon on whether they wanted an 11-judge panel to reconsider Monday's ruling by a three-judge panel.
If the court decides to grant a new hearing, the 11 judges can uphold the original ruling to delay the election or overturn it and restore the Oct. 7 date. The losing party can then appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Tuesday's decision came a day after the three-judge panel noted that as many as 40,000 votes might not get counted in the recall vote because six California counties still use error-prone punch-card ballots -- the same system that sent the 2000 presidential race into chaos.
The judges agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union that the recall could be decided during the regularly scheduled March 2 presidential primary. The counties, including the state's most populous, Los Angeles, are under a separate court order to upgrade to more reliable machines in time for the primary.
The recall will decide the fate of Gov. Gray Davis, who has been dogged by his handling of the state's sagging economy and energy crisis.