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Glazer among lawmakers targeting reforms to California's recall process

Leaders prepare to hold joint hearings to discuss changes to procedures

Voters cast their ballot in the California recall election at Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto on Sept. 14, 2021. Photo by Lloyd Lee.

After beating back an effort to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom, Democratic lawmakers began to set the stage Wednesday for reforming what they see as a deeply flawed recall process, with the goal of bringing a measure to the voters in 2022.

Assembly member Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, speaks during a press conference about reopening schools at Barron Park Elementary in Palo Alto on March 2, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Assembly member Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) will be one of the leaders of the reform effort. As chair of the Assembly Committee on Elections, he and Tri-Valley State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) plan to hold bipartisan joint hearings with their colleagues in the Legislature in the coming months to explore ways to change the recall process, the two lawmakers said Wednesday morning at a press conference over Zoom.

While the details of the reform package have not been hashed out, Berman said his biggest issue with the current system is the relatively low threshold for ousting and replacing an incumbent governor. Under the two-question format that was used in the recall election, Newsom needed at least half of the state's voters to reject the recall for him to stay in office. By contrast, if a simple majority had voted to support the recall, any candidate who was vying to replace Newsom would only need to have won a plurality of votes.

"For me, the biggest issue is that we currently have a process whereby the governor can be recalled and replaced by someone who has less votes," Berman said Wednesday morning. "For me, that's the big foundational piece that I want to change."

Glazer, who chairs the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments, also said he has significant concerns about the two-question format on the recall ballot. Most of the other 19 states that have a recall process have provisions for appointing someone to fill the vacant seat if a governor is recalled and then following an election process. Some lawmakers, he said, believe a recall should trigger a runoff. Others believe a lieutenant governor should step forward if a recall is successful and fill the spot until an election is completed at a future date.

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These alternatives will be explored in the coming months, he said, as the two legislative bodies proceed with gathering ideas from lawmakers, academics and legal and political experts. Lawmakers will look at issues such as grounds for removal, California's signature gathering requirements and the process of succession, should the recall effort be successful.

State Sen. Steve Glazer, whose district includes the Tri-Valley. (File photo)

Both lawmakers expressed concern Wednesday about the way that the recall process, which has been around for over a century, has been used in recent years. More than 70% of attempts to recall elected state officials that have qualified for the ballot occurred in the last 27 years. Berman and Glazer noted in a statement that each of the last nine governors in California has faced multiple recall attempts, though only two had qualified for the ballot. The only successful ouster of a governor through the recall process occurred in 2003, when voters removed Gray Davis from office and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The two lawmakers noted that the reform process will be open to the public to maintain transparency.

"Neither of us is suggesting that the recall process be eliminated," Glazer said at Wednesday's press conference. "We're simply saying that accountability is good and it needs to be maintained, but we need to look for ways to modernize it and understand how it's been manipulated in the last couple of decades in ways that we think are counterproductive and that voters of California, at the end of the day, may view as counterproductive."

Berman said in a statement that the Tuesday vote, in which more than two-thirds of the voters rejected the recall, "highlighted the fundamentally undemocratic nature of California's existing recall process." The leaders of the state's two legislative chambers — Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Redon — also issued statements expressing support for exploring recall reforms. Atkins called such a review "timely and worthy of debate," while Rendon called it "totally appropriate."

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"We came far too close to having a Governor elected by a tiny fraction of eligible voters," Rendon said in a statement. "While that is no way to pick the leader of the most populous state in the nation, it would be equally wrong to make any changes without a thorough study of alternatives. I look forward to hearing the discussion."

Berman and Glazer said Wednesday that the earliest time frame for enacting reform to the recall process would be 2022. That is also when Newsom is up for reelection. Berman said the given the recent effort to recall the governor, reforms to the process are an issue that is "in front of the mind for a lot of voters right now."

"In hindsight, Chair Glazer and I probably wish this was addressed before either of us has been elected to the Legislature," Berman said. "It hasn't been. We want to make sure we make some improvements to the process now and not kick it off to future elected officials."

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Glazer among lawmakers targeting reforms to California's recall process

Leaders prepare to hold joint hearings to discuss changes to procedures

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 15, 2021, 4:44 pm

After beating back an effort to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom, Democratic lawmakers began to set the stage Wednesday for reforming what they see as a deeply flawed recall process, with the goal of bringing a measure to the voters in 2022.

Assembly member Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) will be one of the leaders of the reform effort. As chair of the Assembly Committee on Elections, he and Tri-Valley State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) plan to hold bipartisan joint hearings with their colleagues in the Legislature in the coming months to explore ways to change the recall process, the two lawmakers said Wednesday morning at a press conference over Zoom.

While the details of the reform package have not been hashed out, Berman said his biggest issue with the current system is the relatively low threshold for ousting and replacing an incumbent governor. Under the two-question format that was used in the recall election, Newsom needed at least half of the state's voters to reject the recall for him to stay in office. By contrast, if a simple majority had voted to support the recall, any candidate who was vying to replace Newsom would only need to have won a plurality of votes.

"For me, the biggest issue is that we currently have a process whereby the governor can be recalled and replaced by someone who has less votes," Berman said Wednesday morning. "For me, that's the big foundational piece that I want to change."

Glazer, who chairs the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments, also said he has significant concerns about the two-question format on the recall ballot. Most of the other 19 states that have a recall process have provisions for appointing someone to fill the vacant seat if a governor is recalled and then following an election process. Some lawmakers, he said, believe a recall should trigger a runoff. Others believe a lieutenant governor should step forward if a recall is successful and fill the spot until an election is completed at a future date.

These alternatives will be explored in the coming months, he said, as the two legislative bodies proceed with gathering ideas from lawmakers, academics and legal and political experts. Lawmakers will look at issues such as grounds for removal, California's signature gathering requirements and the process of succession, should the recall effort be successful.

Both lawmakers expressed concern Wednesday about the way that the recall process, which has been around for over a century, has been used in recent years. More than 70% of attempts to recall elected state officials that have qualified for the ballot occurred in the last 27 years. Berman and Glazer noted in a statement that each of the last nine governors in California has faced multiple recall attempts, though only two had qualified for the ballot. The only successful ouster of a governor through the recall process occurred in 2003, when voters removed Gray Davis from office and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The two lawmakers noted that the reform process will be open to the public to maintain transparency.

"Neither of us is suggesting that the recall process be eliminated," Glazer said at Wednesday's press conference. "We're simply saying that accountability is good and it needs to be maintained, but we need to look for ways to modernize it and understand how it's been manipulated in the last couple of decades in ways that we think are counterproductive and that voters of California, at the end of the day, may view as counterproductive."

Berman said in a statement that the Tuesday vote, in which more than two-thirds of the voters rejected the recall, "highlighted the fundamentally undemocratic nature of California's existing recall process." The leaders of the state's two legislative chambers — Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Redon — also issued statements expressing support for exploring recall reforms. Atkins called such a review "timely and worthy of debate," while Rendon called it "totally appropriate."

"We came far too close to having a Governor elected by a tiny fraction of eligible voters," Rendon said in a statement. "While that is no way to pick the leader of the most populous state in the nation, it would be equally wrong to make any changes without a thorough study of alternatives. I look forward to hearing the discussion."

Berman and Glazer said Wednesday that the earliest time frame for enacting reform to the recall process would be 2022. That is also when Newsom is up for reelection. Berman said the given the recent effort to recall the governor, reforms to the process are an issue that is "in front of the mind for a lot of voters right now."

"In hindsight, Chair Glazer and I probably wish this was addressed before either of us has been elected to the Legislature," Berman said. "It hasn't been. We want to make sure we make some improvements to the process now and not kick it off to future elected officials."

Comments

DublinMike
Registered user
Dublin
on Sep 16, 2021 at 10:19 am
DublinMike, Dublin
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2021 at 10:19 am

The 12% of eligible voters rule was for a time that had no mass media/social networking or online capacity. When the recall was established, a signature-gatherer would need nearly a week to ride from southern California to northern California. So, for that time, 12% was established for practically.

The rule today should be 50% + 1 to reflect current communication technology.


Jake Waters
Registered user
Birdland
on Sep 17, 2021 at 9:24 am
Jake Waters, Birdland
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2021 at 9:24 am

First, I did vote for the Recall, and mind you I have no regrets because I believe it acknowledges the lack of leadership and the weakness of this male in Sacramento, but after assessment I feel Recall’s don’t accomplish anything. It’s better to let the mistake marinate to the end to drive home the point. Let’s pray he only has the one opportunity as Governor and is left in the rear view mirror.

That said, our tyrant is going to punish this state with more mandates, controls, and assorted lockdowns, but will continue to support his elite’s interests as he has since we started this nightmare. Hold on kids, it’s going to be a long 15 months.

Secondly, will Newsom allow his children (one is 12) to be forced to take the experimental gene therapy as he is mandating for your children? My guess is no. After all, his family isn’t subjected to the same rules as the hired help.

Lastly, I hold all voting Democrats in this state and particularly in this country responsible for the disaster that is taking place. I don’t know who I fear more- China, Russians, or Democrat voters?


John
Registered user
Birdland
on Sep 17, 2021 at 12:30 pm
John, Birdland
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Once again the California voter has gotten what they deserve.


RobertD.
Registered user
Bridle Creek
on Sep 21, 2021 at 7:20 pm
RobertD., Bridle Creek
Registered user
on Sep 21, 2021 at 7:20 pm

I, Democrats, independent voters and some Republicans voted to keep Elder out and Newsome in. Why? Take a look at Covid statistics in Republican states compared to California. That is just one of the main reasons Newsome won. There are many other reasons.


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 21, 2021 at 8:40 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 21, 2021 at 8:40 pm

Maybe the gov should be more focused on representing all Californians and their interests vs pushing a highly localized subset of interests. You know, that diversity and inclusion everyone else should follow because it makes a better overall outcome…..oh but that only applies to “thee” not “me”

Do your job and you wouldn’t have to worry about it


BobB
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2021 at 8:47 am
BobB, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2021 at 8:47 am

@Jake Waters,

"forced to take the experimental gene therapy"

That is a lie. It is totally untrue. Quit posting anti-vax garbage. Are you still trying to talk people out of getting a vaccine that save their lives or keep them out of the hospital? Seriously? That's what you are hoping to accomplish?


KG
Registered user
California Reflections
on Sep 25, 2021 at 12:27 pm
KG, California Reflections
Registered user
on Sep 25, 2021 at 12:27 pm

Pleasanton Parent, as the election outcome shows, Newsome represents a majority of Californians. [portion removed]


John
Registered user
Birdland
on Sep 25, 2021 at 9:29 pm
John, Birdland
Registered user
on Sep 25, 2021 at 9:29 pm

The California voters have gotten exactly what they deserve.


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 26, 2021 at 11:55 am
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 26, 2021 at 11:55 am

Majority does not mean all.

You think the majority support his bill (conveniently) that allows children to get sex changes without parental knowledge?


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