U.S. Supreme Court Rules Dallas County's Appeal in Fight Over Voting Machines is "Moot"

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a very confusing ruling in the case involving Dallas County's voting machines -- a case, you'll recall, that stemmed from Linda Harper-Brown's 19-vote victory over Democrat Bob Romano in 1998. Long story short: The Texas Democratic Party (represented in part by attorney Clay Jenkins, now the county judge) sued Dallas County in federal court, claiming, as Ballot Access News neatly summed it up back in June, that "some voters are tricked into thinking they voted a straight-ticket vote, when actually they hadn't."

There was also an issue with whether the county pre-cleared the so-called direct-recording electronic voting machines with the Department of Justice before putting them into place. The county insisted they had -- twice, most recently in March 2010, when the DOJ said Dallas was good to go. The Texas Democratic Party (through its attorney, Clay Jenkins, now the county judge) has tried, repeatedly, to ditch the machines in similar suits filed against Travis and Tarrant Counties, both of which it lost. But after three federal judges disallowed the machines' use in 2009, the county appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. Which is where today's ruling comes in.

The Supremes actually handed down two rulings this morning, one of which says "the appeal is dismissed as moot," meaning: Since the DOJ pre-cleared the machines, they're good to go. But the other part of today's ruling remands the case back to Dallas federal court "with instructions to enter a fresh judgment from which an appeal may be taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit."

The Associated Press piece making the rounds characterizes the ruling as such: "Court throws out judgment against voting machines." But the Texas Democratic Party takes issue with that. When I called for comment this coming, I was told a statement was forthcoming from its general counsel, Chad Dunn. It just arrived and says, in full:

"We are pleased with the United States Supreme Court's ruling. The Texas Democratic Party has and will continue to fight for the voters of this state to have available the most accurate voting equipment available so they can cast a meaningful and tabulated ballot. The TDP sued Dallas County to ensure all voting machines receive Voting Rights Act review before being put to the voters. TDP won at the district court and that decision has now been accepted on appeal. We are hopeful that Dallas County will comply with the ruling in the future and that it will abandon its baseless objections to the Court's award of TDP's attorneys fees and costs."

Messages have been left for county elections officials, including Toni Pippins-Poole.

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