Two California voters could throw a huge monkey wrench into the entire recall circus, filing a federal lawsuit that aims to call off the recall, or add Gavin’s name to the replacement list.
Several clever people on social media have wondered if they can just write in Gavin Newsom’s name on the Sept. 14 recall election, so that even if 50% or more of voters vote ‘yes’ on the recall, then Newsom would stay in office. Sorry, this will not work. As KQED explains, “you can't just write in Newsom's name,” and “if you do this, your write-in won't be counted, as Newsom can't run against himself in the recall.” And there’s certainly some unfairness to this, considering that Newsom could have 49.9% support, and the governorship could go to some AM radio host rube who only gets 23% of the vote.
In Opinion— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 12, 2021
Governor Gavin Newsom can receive the most votes in California's recall election but still be removed from office. "This is not just nonsensical and undemocratic. It is unconstitutional," write law professors Erwin Chemerinsky and Aaron Edlin. https://t.co/SC7xhv0pQ9
That’s why two voters filed a federal lawsuit challenging the recall, first reported by Politico, demanding the election be called off, or that Newsom’s name be added to the replacement list. The article follows the logic of last week’s New York Times op-ed form UC Berkeley School of Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky. “Based on virtually every opinion poll, Mr. Newsom seems likely to have more votes to keep him in office than any other candidate will receive to replace him. But he may well lose the first question on the recall, effectively disenfranchising his supporters on the second question,” Chemerinsky writes. “This is not just nonsensical and undemocratic. It is unconstitutional. It violates a core constitutional principle that has been followed for over 60 years: Every voter should have an equal ability to influence the outcome of the election."
Yesterday, Attorney General Rob Bonta said he was "monitoring" the idea that the Gavin Newsom recall is unconstitutional and didn't commit to him + Shirley Weber defending it in court...https://t.co/eVUq3BkZVt— Eric Ting (@_ericting) August 17, 2021
The U.S. District Court filing, also obtained by Politico, gets a little deeper in the constitutional nitty-gritty. “This process is violative of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment, because it flies in the face of the federal legal principle of ‘one person, one vote,’ and gives to voters who vote to recall the Governor two votes — one to remove him and one to select a successor, but limits to only one vote the franchise of those who vote to retain him and that he not be recalled, so that a person who votes for recall has twice as many votes as a person who votes against recall,” the filing says. “This is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied.”
It does seem far-fetched the lawsuit will succeed, considering ballots have already been mailed out, and we are less than a month from the election. But it is somewhat sound logic, and state attorney general Rob Bonta sounds like he’s treating it as a credible legal threat to the recall.
“We’re aware of that argument and some of the other concerns and we’ll be making sure we stay abreast of this issue and monitoring it,” Bonta told Politico. “We’ll be coordinating with the secretary of state’s office to determine next steps.”
And Bonta, as you may remember, owes his job to Gavin Newsom.
Image: @GavinNewsom via Twitter