Lawyers representing the two parties on the losing side — Secretary of State Kevin Shelley and a proponent of the recall, Ted Costa — said the decision was a catastrophically misguided departure from settled law. They predicted turmoil in California and a spate of future election challenges there and in 41 other states if a larger panel of the court did not overturn the decision, which was issued by a panel of three judges.
“Dark constitutional clouds loom over every state using more than one system” to count votes, lawyers for Mr. Costa wrote.
The minorities, represented by the A.C.L.U. Foundation of Southern California, said the situation in California was unlikely to recur. “Any fear that the panel’s decision will unleash a wave of garden-variety challenges to nonuniform voting technologies aimed at enjoining state elections is at best farfetched,” they wrote.
The lawyers on the losing side said the case easily satisfied that standard and asked for a prompt review by an 11-judge panel of the court. The plaintiffs, though arguing the contrary, seemed to fear that the full court might be inclined to agree. They urged it to step aside and allow the Supreme Court to take up the case.
Monday’s decision held that the punch-card voting system used in six California counties that represent 44 percent of the statewide electorate could be expected to produce a large and disproportionate number of uncountable votes. The court said the disparity would violate the equal protection guarantees of the Constitution.