SAN FRANCISCO – As Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a recall election in September, a majority of California voters would likely be in favor of overhauling the state’s recall process to make it harder to remove elected officials in the midst of mandate, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday.
Sixty percent of likely voters said they would support a change in state rules so that officials can only be recalled for illegal or unethical activity. Fifty-five percent would support doubling the number of signatures required to hold a recall election.
While the PPIC poll did not ask about voters’ views on whether to recall Newsom, another poll this week by the Institute of Governmental Studies in Berkeley found it with 50 percent of support at 47 percent among likely voters.
The PPIC poll found Newsom had an approval rating among likely voters of 56% on jobs and the economy.
Another suggested change to the recall rules gained even more support: holding a separate top-two election if the recall is successful and no replacement candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. Sixty-eight percent of likely voters said they would support the change, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Under the current system, a replacement candidate could become governor with a relatively low plurality of votes.
Still, voters said they would rather keep the recall option rather than abandon it altogether. Eighty-six percent said they think it is good that the state’s constitution allows for recall of elected officials, although 69 percent – including 90 percent Democrats and 36 percent Republicans – said the current recall price was a waste of money. PPIC asked voters about an estimated first cost for counties of $ 215 million, although heads of state now estimate its overall cost at $ 276 million.
Changing the recall process would require amending the constitution, which would take yet another statewide voting step. In an accompanying blog post, PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare recommended “creating a bipartisan commission that offers policy recommendations to California voters to consider in the November 2022 ballot to l ‘statewide’.
The PPIC survey of 1,569 California residents was conducted July 6-14 and has an overall margin of error of 3.4%. It has a 4.2% margin of error for questions involving the likely 937 voters.