LOS ANGELES – California Democrats called for changes to the state’s recall process less than a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom decisively pushed back a Republican-led effort to oust him from office.
Assembly Member Marc Berman and State Senator Steve Glazer, both Democrats, on Wednesday announced plans to hold joint and bipartisan hearings as early as October to consider potential changes to the recall system. They have not presented specific proposals that will be addressed during these hearings.
“Yesterday’s election highlighted the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the existing California recall process,” Berman, chairman of the Assembly Elections Committee, said in the announcement, held on Zoom. “California laws should not allow an elected official to be removed and replaced by someone else who receives far fewer votes.”
Changing California’s revocation system, which was established in 1911, would require the state legislature to pass a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution with a two-thirds majority in the Assembly and Senate. . The proposed amendment would then appear on a statewide ballot.
Berman said he hoped legislation would be introduced early next year and that the issue would be put to voters in the 2022 poll.
“Whatever solution we come up with should be clear to future governors and voters,” he said.
Tuesday’s recall election asked voters whether Newsom should be removed – “yes” or “no” – and gave voters who wanted to be ousted the choice of 46 alternatives.
“No” won with 64% of the expected vote, according to NBC News. The results will be certified by Oct. 22, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.
The state’s finance department estimated in July that holding a recall election would cost taxpayers $ 276 million, a price repeatedly criticized by opponents of the effort. California Secretary of State Shirley Weber told ABC News on Tuesday that the final cost could total more than $ 300 million.
“This money can be spent on housing, homelessness, fighting climate change and forest fires, early childhood education – you name it,” Berman said. “I think there is a lot of desire and need to reform the recall process.”
Newsom, a Democrat, appeared to face serious headwinds and multiple crises earlier this summer, with early polls suggesting he could lose his job. A controversial dinner at Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant served as the perfect backdrop for those who painted it as a disconnected elite.
Republican challengers have complained that Newsom, who was pictured without a mask inside the restaurant, failed to follow his own public health rules despite a statewide warrant to help slow the spread of Covid-19. He has also been criticized for shutting down schools for too long and not doing enough to help small businesses.
But Newsom, with the help of party leaders including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, managed to wake Democratic voters up with a message warning that a Republican replacement would rescind Covid protections and betray character. progressive state.
“We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines,” Newsom told supporters after several sources, including NBC News, predicted he would survive the recall and stay on Tuesday night. “We said yes to the end of this pandemic. We said yes to the right of people to vote without fear. We said yes to the constitutional right of women to decide.”
Glazer and Berman said they hope to clarify what constitutes a “revocable offense”, thereby setting a higher bar for future recall elections. Currently, a governor is subject to a recall election if opponents collect signatures equivalent to 12% of the total votes cast in.Once a recall qualifies for the ballot, voters are asked to vote on two issues: should the governor be removed and, if so, who should replace him?
The second question, which voters are not required to answer, is something Glazer and Berman intend to study in their respective committee hearings, they said. Currently, a candidate who wins fewer votes than the incumbent governor can replace him if enough people vote no on the first question.
“None of us are suggesting eliminating the recall process,” Glazer said. “We have to look for ways to modernize it and understand how it has been handled over the decades. “