Why California Democrats are pushing for recall reform

Since Governor Gavin Newsom has defeated the attempt to recall him, many Californians want to reform California’s recall system. “I think it’s just a waste of money because I think that it was clear that Newsom was going to be elected again, that he wasn’t gonna be recalled. I think it was a waste of time and money,” said Kelly Fleischer (12). The high cost of the recall against Newsom, among other things, fueled the effort to change the system.

Article and Graphic by Yasmine Sarraf

On September 14, California Governor Gavin Newsom successfully dodged opponents’ effort to recall him. Now, California Democrats are pushing to reform the state’s unusual recall process to make recall elections harder to initiate.

For most supporters of the reform, the main issue is that in California, if a governor is up for recall, they can lose their position to a candidate who earned fewer votes than them. The current recall system requires the governor to obtain at least 50 percent of the vote against a recall. If they do not achieve this, then the candidate with the most votes gains the position, even if they have fewer votes than the incumbent governor. “ . . . Which means the vast majority of California would be rejecting that person,” said Secretary of State Shirley Weber to ABC7 News.

AUC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, found that the majority of voters believe the recall against Newsom was a waste of taxpayer money (around 300 million dollars). The poll also found that many voters approve of the idea of creating a runoff election, meaning that if Californians voted to remove a governor, there would be a separate election held to decide who would replace them.

Those who are pushing the reform claim that California’s unusual system makes it easier than in most states to recall a governor.

One of the reasons for this is that California’s recall system allows people to recall a governor for any reason. This is significant because in many states with a recall system, a governor cannot be recalled unless they have been convicted of a felony or have not acted properly as governor.

Some propose that California adopts a system in which a governor can be recalled only in certain cases and in violation of their duties. This system would be similar to that of impeaching a president.

Another reason California has such an easy recall process is that the minimum required signatures for a candidate in a recall election is only 12 percent of the vote of the last election. In the recall for Newsom, the requirement was around 1.5 million signatures, which is not a lot compared to other states. For example, in Michigan, the requirement is 25 percent and in Kansas, the requirement is 40 percent.

One proposed change is to increase the requirement to 20 percent or higher, therefore lowering the chances of there being a recall.

“The voters want to see a more democratic process put in place that keeps elected officials accountable, that prevents political gamesmanship of the rules,” said Senator Steve Glazer.

A reform to California’s recall system would make it more difficult for a recall election to take place in the state, and many California voters are in favor of this.

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