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California to examine tighter rules for recall elections after Newsom victory By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. People wait outside the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach (California), U.S.A, September 14th, 2021 to cast their vote. REUTERS/David Swanson

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – A day after California voters resoundingly rejected a Republican-backed effort to oust Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom from his job, lawmakers began considering ways to reform the state’s system for recalling elected officials.

With 64% support, Newsom defeated the challenge on Tuesday, sending out a clear message to the Democratic-leaning state that they supported his efforts in tackling crime, COVID-19 and immigration.

Californians will elect a new governor next year, even though the election was difficult to win. There was also the possibility of a candidate who received a smaller majority than necessary votes to become governor.

Steve Glazer of State, who is the chairman of Senate Committee on Elections (and Constitutional Amendments), stated: “It’s time to reevaluate and upgrade California’s recall procedure.” The voters desire a democratic system that holds elected officials accountable but does not allow for political gameplay.

Both Marc Berman and Glazer, a Democratic Assembly member, stated that they will hold bipartisan hearings over the next few months in order to discuss possible system changes, which would include amending the state constitution.

Mike Madrid, Republican strategist, said reform talks were partisan maneuvering by Democrats.

Madrid stated that “throwing out a powerful instrument to protect democracy for solely partisan purposes is misguided, and dangerous.”

California spent $270 million to hold the special election. It was made possible by 1.5 million signatures collected by the Patriot Coalition, a conservative group.

Newsom had raised almost $70 million in order to stop the recall effort. A few Republicans who wanted to challenge him also raised $40 million.

California’s centuries-old recall system requires that opponents to a sitting official must gather signatures only from 12% of those who voted for the office last time. This is in order to call for a special recall election.

To put the election on the ballot, there need not be any malfeasance or corruption allegations. While a majority must vote to remove the incumbent, it is not necessary to have a majority to elect a replacement.

It is possible for someone who has a minority of supporters to win office.

State records reveal that there has been a total of 55 attempts at removing the governor and 80 attempts at recalling state legislators since 1911. There have also been 27 attempts to recall the state Supreme Court Justices.

Out of 179 possible ballots, 11 were successful and six ended in the ousting. Gray Davis, the former governor of California, was replaced in 2003 by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Assembly Speak Anthony Rendon cautioned against the temptation to be too cautious.

Rendon stated that “We were far too close” to electing a governor by only a small fraction of eligible voters. While it is not the best way to choose the head of the state with the highest population, the same thing would make no sense to change without doing a comprehensive study.