There is only one petition currently circulating that, when signed by a registered voter, can be turned in to recall Governor Newsom. But you wouldn’t know that if you searched online.
Orrin Heatlie, the lead proponent of the latest recall effort, has disclosed that his volunteer signature gatherers are getting a curious response from otherwise supportive voters they encounter. Literally thousands of people are saying they have “already signed the online petition” to recall Governor Newsom. But the petitions they’re referring to, on the website Change.org, are not valid recall petitions.
The reason for this is simple: The only way any recall petition in the State of California can be valid is if (1) it is a petition that has been officially recognized by the California Secretary of State, and (2) if it is printed on paper and signed in ink. While it is possible to download and print a legitimate petition for signature, it is not possible to sign any official petition online. They are not valid.
This hasn’t stopped people from setting up online accounts on Change.org under the key words “Recall Newsom.” A search on the Change.org website showed that one account set up to gather recall Newsom petitions has gotten over 364,000 supporters, another has over 56,000, and another has 29,000. Several additional accounts on Change.org are promoting Recall Newsom petitions with hundreds or thousands of supporters. These accounts are also collecting donations.
When asked about these misleading Change.org accounts, Heatlie said “these are not valid petitions. They are, in my opinion, defrauding the public of donations, and are profiteering with people’s frustration with this governor and his lack of leadership.”
The idea behind Change.org, established in 2007 and based in San Francisco, is a good one. It is a platform where anybody can set up an account and gather signatures for petitions to support or oppose literally anything. It is an excellent example of how an online resource can give people without money or celebrity the ability to nonetheless rally thousands, if not millions of people, to form a populist movement.
As noted on its website, Change.org’s “people powered campaigns for social change” have enabled political pressure that has freed people who were wrongfully convicted, has led to new laws, has changed corporate behavior, etc. While the campaigns on the platform appear to be overwhelmingly launched in support of liberal causes, the platform is obviously utilized by conservatives and independents, as evidenced by its many Recall Newsom accounts.
But an online petition, while useful to apply pressure, has no value whatsoever in California in terms of usable petitions that can be turned in to place anything onto the ballot, from a local ballot initiative to a statewide recall effort.
It may not be possible for the Recall Newsom campaign to compel Change.org to remove what are, at the very least, accounts that are established under misleading pretenses. And while Change.org has not encountered serious legal issues in more than ten years of operation, they are a for-profit corporation despite having the “.org” extension on their website address.
More questionable, however, are the motives of anyone who would launch an account on Change.org dedicated to the goal of recalling California’s governor. Because putting a petition on Change.org does not translate into submitting petitions to California’s Secretary of State to force a special recall election. It does, however, translate into donations pouring into the pockets of the people who put these petitions online.
If these people sincerely want to recall the governor of California, their Change.org accounts would point people to the officially recognized, downloadable petition. Or at the least, their accounts would disclose the fact that the petitions they’re putting on Change.org are not official recall petitions.
Governor Newsom has made a lot of mistakes. He has alienated millions of Californians. And it is not only Newsom’s actions before and during the pandemic that have harmed Californians, it is what Newsom represents. He is the leader of a collection of special interests that wield overwhelming financial power: left-wing billionaires, high-tech communications monopolies, environmentalist trial attorneys and lobbyists, and public sector unions. These special interests have turned California into a one-party state. Whatever they want, they get. They own the state legislature, and they own Gavin Newsom.
It is a shame that hundreds of thousands of Californians may end up signing online petitions on Change.org, thinking they have supported the recall in a meaningful way, when in fact they have accomplished nothing.
Forcing Gavin Newsom to fight for his political life will send a message across California and the nation. Voters have had enough. The political landscape is shifting. It is no longer acceptable to hide behind “woke” rhetoric, “green” causes, and COVID panic, using these emotional issues as an excuse for corporations and billionaires to destroy small businesses, raise taxes, and make California’s cost-of-living even more unaffordable.
There is only one way to sign a petition that can actually be submitted to recall Gavin Newsom, and that is to go to https://RecallGavin2020.com, download and print a petition, sign it in ink, and turn it in. Everything necessary to do that is on the official campaign website. The “petitions” on Change.org are good for public pressure campaigns, but they have no pull with the California Secretary of State.
There is still plenty of time. Millions of Californians want to recall California’s governor. But they have to sign an officially recognized petition. That would not include any “petition” hosted on Change.org.