State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) introduced a constitutional amendment, SCA 6, to ensure that statewide and legislative recalls in California are democratic, fair and not subject to political manipulation.
This constitutional amendment will ensure that voters in state-level recall elections are asked only if an elected official should be recalled from office and will provide for three scenarios in the event of the recall of a state-level elected official: (1) replacing a recalled Governor with the Lt. Governor until the expiration of the current term; (2) replacing constitutional officers through appointment by the Governor, subject to legislative confirmation; and (3) replacing a recalled state legislator via a special election to be held at a later date.
“California’s recall provisions were conceived of and enacted more than 110 years ago. Obviously, the world has changed quite a bit since then, and sadly, politics is no exception,” said Newman. “The system in its current form offers bad actors an incentive to target an elected official with whom they disagree and to have the official replaced by someone who otherwise would not enjoy the support of a majority of voters,” Newman said.
California is one of 19 states with a recall process, but joins only Colorado in having a two-question ballot that allows for a plurality of voters to replace a recalled official. Both states ask voters to decide if an official should be recalled and who should replace the recalled official.
Taxpayers footed the $276 million bill for the last unsuccessful gubernatorial recall attempt in November 2021. A July 2021 PPIC poll indicated general frustration with the recall process, with 69 percent of California voters viewing the recall as a waste of taxpayer money after Governor Gavin Newsom was reconfirmed by a margin identical to his original 2018 election.
Changing the state Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature and, if passed, would have to be approved by California voters.
“Constitutional amendments are not everyday events and I don’t favor big changes for small matters,” said Newman. “But recall in California has become a partisan circus in the internet era and must be reformed to reflect today’s political challenges and to serve the public better.”
Senator Newman won his seat in 2016, but was recalled in 2018. He won the seat again in the 2020 election. He since has been an advocate for recall reform.
Surveys show that voters don’t want to eliminate recall, yet would like to make qualifying a recall election more difficult.