Death penalty battles likely to continue after election

FILE - This Sept. 21, 2010, file photo shows the death chamber of the new lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. The number of people executed in the United States in 2015 dropped to the lowest level since 1991 as states impose fewer death sentences and defendants in capital cases have access to better legal help. The Death Penalty Information Center, a group that opposes executions and tracks the issue, said 28 inmates were executed this year. That’s down from 35 last year and far below the peak of 98 in 1999. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
FILE - This Sept. 21, 2010, file photo shows the death chamber of the new lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. The number of people executed in the United States in 2015 dropped to the lowest level since 1991 as states impose fewer death sentences and defendants in capital cases have access to better legal help. The Death Penalty Information Center, a group that opposes executions and tracks the issue, said 28 inmates were executed this year. That’s down from 35 last year and far below the peak of 98 in 1999. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The battle over California’s death penalty is not likely to be resolved at the ballot box.

Opponents of capital punishment have asked the state Supreme Court to block Proposition 66, a ballot measure that would speed up executions.

Experts say it’s the first volley in what could be a protracted legal battle if the measure becomes law.

The proposition was supported on 51 percent of ballots counted. But with millions of outstanding votes, it was too close to call Friday.

Voters shot down a death penalty repeal measure.

Death penalty supporters say the court challenge filed Wednesday is a frivolous stall tactic by lawyers trying to thwart the will of voters.

The court petition claims the reforms would disrupt the courts, cost more money and limit the ability to mount proper appeals.

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