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California chief electoral officer wants recalls overhaul, possibly as early as 2022


California Secretary of State Shirley Weber supports sentiments to change the state’s recall process. | Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

OAKLAND – California’s top election official said on Wednesday she supported updating the state’s recall system to make it “a fairer and more representative process,” adding to a growing movement a day after Governor Gavin Newsom had defeated an attempt to remove him.

“I’m probably the first person to say that we need to look at this process,” Secretary of State Shirley Weber told POLITICO in an interview, calling California an “outlier” in areas such as the relatively low threshold for qualify a recall. “The process we have is old, it’s hard to implement, it’s expensive, and it’s probably not very fair for everyone.

Newsom has just survived a recall election that has drawn criticism over how California allows voters to oust elected officials. Critics argue it’s too easy to trigger a recall – signatures equaling 12% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election – and warn that the system undemocratically allows a sitting governor to be replaced by someone who obtains fewer votes than the number expressed to keep. the holder.

California’s recall qualified largely on the backs of Republican voters, who are vastly outnumbered by Democrats in voter registration. A few weeks ago, a handful of polls and Newsom’s campaign raised the possibility that disgruntled voters could impeach the governor, while a small majority could elect Tory talk show host Larry Elder in his place.

Voters flatly rejected the recall on Tuesday, with 64% opposed to Newsom’s removal in the initial Election Night count.

Lawmakers have pledged to pursue changes that could revise the recall process as early as next year. Democrats who head the Legislative Assembly election commissions are launching a series of hearings. Another state senator promised to introduce constitutional amendments that would increase the required number of signatures and dictate that when a governor is recalled, the lieutenant governor intervenes.

Newsom took no position, telling reporters on Wednesday it would “leave that to more objective minds” and saying it could still be the subject of a future recall.

Weber is a former Democratic Assembly member who was appointed Secretary of State in January by Newsom when his predecessor Alex Padilla held a seat in the United States Senate. She said she did not support any specific proposals yet, but planned to work with the Legislature to submit a constitutional amendment to voters in 2022. Lawmakers can put proposed changes on the ballot with a vote two-thirds, but voters must ultimately sign.

“Hopefully we can have a good, honest discussion that won’t benefit any particular party,” Weber said. “I would love to see something on the ballot in 2022.”

Newsom isn’t the only California elected official to have rejected a recall in the past year. Anti-titular fervor has led Californians to attempt to overthrow prosecutors, school board members and local elected officials. Weber said the proliferation of recalls should increase public interest in the review of the rules.

“I think the public is sort of waking up because before the callbacks weren’t happening very often, and when they did, someone did something really blatant,” Weber said, but now “we let’s see it everywhere “.

“Obviously that’s something California is interested in now,” she said, “and we can see the cost. “