Consider some changes to the California recall process


California has the three forms of direct democracy incorporated into its State Constitution in Article II. The initiative, the referendum and the revocation were adopted by the voters 110 years ago, in 1911. Article 13 of Article II defines the revocation as “the power of the electorate to dismiss an elected official” . This article briefly describes several changes that could be considered to improve the recall process in that state, dealing only with constitutional provisions.

Increase in the percentage of petition signatures

Section 14 of Section II specifies that a recall of an officer of state is initiated by delivering a petition to the Secretary of State and that proposers have 160 days to file signed petitions. Subdivision (b), which provides voter signature percentages, could be changed for statewide agent purposes to match the same percentage as required for all other elected officials in the state. .

While the current amount is 12% for statewide agents, the state with the lowest signing amount is 10% and the highest of all states is 40%. Using the same 20% for all state officials also places California roughly in the middle of the 19 states that allow recalls. This proposed change could be made by amending subsection (b) as follows:

(b) A petition to dismiss an officer of the state must be signed by electors in a number equal to 12 20 percent of the last vote for office, with signatures from each of the 5 counties equal to 1 percent of the last vote for office in the county. Signatures to remove senators, members of the assembly, members of the Equalization Council and judges of the courts of appeal and first instance courts must equal in number 20 percent of the last vote for the office.

Lieutenant Governor succeeds recalled Governor

Article 15 of Article II provides for the moment of the recall election and the moment when it can be called and conducted. Additionally, this section provides for the two-part question that we experimented with with the successful replacement candidate being elected by plurality of votes on the second question.

This proposal seeks to have the lieutenant governor automatically succeed to the highest office in the state if the governor is removed. For other state officials, there would be no change because there is no statewide elected representative elected by the people in order to take over another post, with the exception of the governor. This proposed change could be made by amending subsection (c) as follows:

(c) If the majority vote on the matter is of removal, the officer is removed and, if there is a candidate, the candidate who receives a plurality is the successor, except in the case of the governor, in which case the lieutenant governor is the successor. The officer cannot be a candidate, and there will be no candidacy for a post filled under subsection (d) of section 16 of article VI.

Reimbursement of expenses and no additional reminders for the same agent

Article 18 of Article II provides for ambiguous language regarding the ability of a government official who is not recalled to be reimbursed for his expenses. The first proposal is to specify what types of expenses would be subject to reimbursement by taxpayers. Another provision in section 18 deals with when another recall of the same agent can be initiated. The second proposal is to remove this provision for the remainder of the state officer’s term, meaning that an officer would only be subject to one recall per warrant.

The third proposal is to prevent the recall of an officer of the State if this officer has served more than half of his mandate. In other words, if the state senator is in the third year of his four-year term, then there would be no booster available; the electorate could instead vote in the next election a year later. These three proposed changes could be made by amending Article 18 as follows:

A state official who is not dismissed is reimbursed by the state for the election expenses of dismissing the official legally and personally incurred by the executive, excluding expenses paid by contributions received by the executive’s nominating committee. A state officer cannot be removed if he has served more than half of his current term. Another recall cannot be initiated against the agent up to six months after the election for the remainder of the director’s term.

There are undoubtedly other proposals that have been and will be made in the coming months to improve the California recall process. The chairmen of the Senate and Assembly political committees announced earlier this week that they plan to conduct several fact-finding hearings to consider reform proposals with the aim of placing a measure on the November 2022 ballot for consideration. by the electorate.

Although very few recalls made it to the poll, it has now happened twice in just 18 years for the governor after no recall had qualified for more than 90 years. While we should not unduly limit the right to vote of individuals in elections, revocations and other forms of direct democracy should be used sparingly and our state constitution should reflect this. No form of direct democracy should be withdrawn from the people, but these three forms must have more guarantees in place.


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