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Gavin Newsom’s victory could trigger reform for California’s recall process


California Gov. Gavin Newsom secured a historic victory against a recall Tuesday night, and now lawmakers are looking to reform the 110-year-old process that allows state officials to be removed. 

Before Californians started to vote, legislators had argued that recalling state officials is too difficult and too costly. They had more ammunition for reform because of the high cost of this year’s exercise. 

“A $276 million waste just to reaffirm 2018’s results with an election coming in 2022,” California Assembly Speaker Pro Temp Kevin Mullin tweeted Tuesday night after the results of the election were called. 

California is home to more recall efforts than you might imagine. 179 attempts There have been 55 recall attempts since 1913. 

But recalls seldom make it onto the ballot. This latest attempt to remove Newsom was the second special election to be triggered in state history, the first having been in 2003 by then-Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, lost to Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Newsom faced frustrations about his handling of the coronavirus epidemic last year. The state had strict health laws that required Newsom to lock down and mandate masks. The movement gained momentum in November when leaked photos showed him wearing a mask at a dinner party. 

The effort eventually garnered nearly 1.5 million signatures to be on the ballot. This is only 12% of voter turnout for the previous election for governor. 

California’s recall laws made it possible for the special elections to be held 14 months before Newsom was due to appear on the ballot. This led many people to demand reform. 

Aside from the enormous expense that comes with a recall election, Secretary of State Shirley Weber acknowledged one of the key flaws of the process, ABC 7 News reported Tuesday. 

If more than 50% of California voters decided to vote “yes” on recalling Newsom in the election, the frontrunner of a crowded field of opponents would have been able to replace him. Even if Newsom received less than 50% of the total vote, that is a good thing. 

Weber explained to ABC 7 News that the idea is somewhat bizarre in that Gavin Newsom may lose. Then we might end up having a candidate who doesn’t receive more than 20%. This would mean that California’s vast majority would vote against the person.

What can we do? According to ABC 7 News, Weber said this. Weber stated, according to ABC 7 News: “We are going to work on that.”

Since years, state lawmakers have attempted to alter the recall process. State Senator Josh Newman, D-Fullerton introduced recent measures that he believes are essential for reform. 

Newman, who won back his Southern California Senate seat in 2020 after being recalled in 2018, introduced Senate Bill 663 late last year. This would enable recall targets to view the petition signers’ lists and prevent them from being misled by false information. 

Current law only allows election officials to view names of signers to validate signatures. 

Also, the bill would extend the time frame for signatures to be able to delete their names from petitions. This will go from just 30 days after recall petitions’ signatures are verified to 45. 

The Senate Elections Committee already approved Senate Bill 663 as well as another measure from Newman, Senate Bill 660, which would ban the practice of paying petition circulators for each signature they obtain for recall efforts as well as other state and local initiatives. According to the bill, this will eliminate any incentive to trick voters into collecting more signatures. 

They will be in effect next year if both Newman’s bills, which are supported by Democrats almost two-to-one by Republicans, get approved by the entire state legislature. 

A recent poll The Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies has shown that 75% of Californians support the recall process. 24% describe it as a “good idea.” 

The poll showed that the majority of voters supported various reforms to the process.

The poll found that 55% of voters supported a proposal to raise the threshold for recall elections from 12% to 25 percent. 

Another proposed to toughen the rules that apply to recalling elected officials in the state  so that they can only be removed from office for causes such as unethical or illegal behavior. This change was supported by 59% voters. 

Another proposal was to make it harder for people to run in a recall election. This would involve raising the filing fee of $4000 and increasing the threshold of signatures required to register to vote. This idea was supported by 51% voters. 

Eric Schickler from Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies said that the results showed that 51% of voters supported the Newsom recall.