In hopes of avoiding another $276 million recall waste, the state assembly starts hearings to revise the recall process that’s been on the books for 110 years.
Governor Gavin Newsom was elected in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. For this September’s recall election, he was kept in office with the exact same 61.9% voting to keep Newsom as governor and against the recall. It is mathematically fair to say that the recall was an absolute goddamned waste of $276 million in taxpayer dollars, brought forth by the same people who’ve tried to recall Newsom six times in three years, and who only got lucky once because a judge gave them a four-month extension on collecting signatures.
The recall process is particularly easy to initiate in California, and Sacramento lawmakers said they would look at ways to tighten up the recall process. NBC Bay Area reports that the state assembly’s Committee on Elections has started hearings on overhauling the recall process, though at this point these are just hearings, with no specific policy proposals yet.
Assemblymember Marc Berman said Thursday that the low recall threshold "creates an opportunity for small minorities of Californians to weaponize the recall process to disrupt government,” and bemoaned the “fundamentally undemocratic nature of California’s current process.”
As NBC Bay Area points out, “California has one of the nation’s lowest thresholds for signatures and longest periods to collect them. In this year's recall, proponents had to collect 1.5 million signatures, which was 12% of the electorate who voted Newsom into office in 2018. By contrast, Kansas requires 40%.”
The assembly is pretty much just brainstorming solutions right now. They’ve discussed raising the number of signature required to make the recall ballot, making it so the lieutenant governor automatically takes the spot if the governor is recalled, or adding a “solid evidence of malfeasance” requirement to allow for a recall election to take place.
Most states don’t even allow their governor to be recalled, only 19 states allow a framework to recall a state official. It is more common for states to allow local officials to be recalled, as 30 states allow local recall elections. And the state legislature ought to look at those local recalls too, as we are swimming in them in San Francisco, and SF Weekly reported in early September that approximately 70 recall elections had been initiated in California in 2021.