California Democrats just can’t help themselves when it comes to recall elections. Another bill to alter the timeline and procedures of the current recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom will be voted on this week in the Legislature.
SB 152/AB 152 authorizes the California Secretary of State to certify the recall petition signatures for a recall election without waiting for the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to review for 30 days the Department of Finance’s cost estimate, as required by existing law, if the Legislature has appropriated funds for conducting the election in the Budget Act or another statute.
The obvious goal of the legislation is to modify the timeline and process of the current recall election, to garner a more favorable electorate.
This bill changes the voting procedures specific to a recall or election conducted prior to January 1, 2022 — requiring less neighborhood polling places and more days to count ballots. The bill seeks to modify and accelerate the recall by waiving a recently enacted requirement for the Legislature to review election costs.
Those voting procedures and timeline were passed by Democrats in 2018 in an attempt to save Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) from the recall election he was in the middle of at the time. It didn’t work; he was recalled. SB 117 in 2017-18 added extensive delays to the recall process in a not-so-sublte attempt to obstruct the people’s right to a speedy election to thwart a senatorial recall.
As for SB 152, someone close to the recall explained this: “The cost of the recall election is irrelevant, as voters have already decided to hold the recall election under the Constitution. Highlighting the costs of this election will only be used as a talking point by opponents to attack the recall effort – while the costs of several special elections due to gubernatorial appointments do not seem to raise the same concerns.”
Once again, the recall process is being rewritten to meet political needs.
But this isn’t the only legislation.
Earlier this year, Senate Bill 660 by Senator Josh Newman was introduced to specifically prohibit a person from paying money or providing any other thing of value based on the number of signatures obtained on a state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition.
Newman, who was ousted in a recall election in 2018 over his support for a gasoline tax before narrowly winning his seat back last year, wrote SB 660 in response to many recent petition drives implementing such a pay structure, which he believes leads to inflated supporter signature numbers and bringing an undue number of petitions, recall or otherwise, to the ballot. Combined with the also recently passed-by-committee SB 663, which would provide an elected official who is the subject of a recall election the names and addresses of every voter who signed the petition to “make sure that they “understood the recall petition they may have signed”, Senator Newman is aiming to make recall elections harder to bring about in the future, the Globe reported.
The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, which administers the elections for California’s 22 million voters throughout the 58 counties, sent a letter to Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis with a list of their concerns on the administrative limitations regarding the timing of the upcoming recall election, preferring to hold the election September 14th at the earliest:
- Official ballot paper and envelopes supply chain issues;
- Meeting The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act deadline;
- VoteCal release and Statewide Mock Election in jeopardy;
- USPS and ballot tracking;
- Vote Centers/Polling Places;
- Recruiting/Staffing Poll Workers;
- Voter notification required under the Voter’s Choice Act;
- Voting system programming; among other concerns.
“The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) members are committed to running an efficient, accurate, cost-effective, and transparent election,” the clerks wrote. “We urge the Lieutenant Governor’s office take our concerns seriously which will allow us to conduct a successful election process. We owe this to our voters.”
With a Democratic Supermajority, this bill may be overwhelmingly passed. Or, as with the recall petition signatures, one-third of the signers not Republicans… perhaps lawmakers’s votes will reflect the same.
As Assemblyman Kevin Kiley recently wrote:
“Newsom and his enablers are changing the rules for his own Recall in the middle of the game. They cheat in plain sight then wonder why people lack trust in our elections.
Newsom thought his best chance was to put the vote off until the state “opens.” Now he’s decided waiting too long presents other risks. So he’s changing the law to set the election exactly when he wants.
His top supporter in the Senate said this explicitly: “If you’re forced to fight an unnecessary battle, at least do it on your terms,” he wrote, citing future “threats” like “fires” and “school reopening” as a reason to hold the election earlier than the law currently allows.
If the vote is in September, as now appears likely, we have about 100 days to save California. Get ready for the campaign of a lifetime.”
The Associated Press even questioned the legislation:
“Now, as Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a recall of his own, they’re trying to change the laws again. This time, though, Democrats want the option to speed things up to take advantage of what they see as favorable conditions for Newsom.”
CA Clerks Assoc ltr to Lt. Gov.
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