Tuesday, October 4, 2022

California: Recall "reform" bills signed by Governor

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed two laws that hit recalls, one of which makes a big change to local recall laws for non-charter counties and most localities in the state. However, the impact is unlikely to be what proponents hope. 

The more important new law (AB 2582) will remove replacement races for local recall elections in all non-charter cities that use their own laws, and replace it with the "Automatic Replacement" or Replace as by law" model. The legislators are focused on what they claim is hyper-partisanship. In op-eds with my colleagues David Carrillo and Steven Duvernay, we've been quite critical of this approach. It simply removes the ability of voters to make the choice. Based on Oregon's experience with this law, we should not expect any drop off in recalls. Oregon (a state a fraction of California) using the automatic replacement model and has had approximately the same number of recalls over the last 12 years. This will not affect State-level recalls like Governor or state Senator. Nor will it affect charter cities, such as Los Angeles or San Francisco. But the impact will be felt state wide. 

The second bill (AB 2584) plays a bit around the edges on recall law, including raising the amount of signatures for the original petition (that amount is very small,, so for jurisdictions with less than 100,000 registereds, it goes from 10 to 30) and makes changes to the law regarding statements (the petitions need to be available for review). 

Perhaps most importantly, it allows a potential push back to the date of a recall. Under the new law, a new recall can waiting to occur for as much as 180 days from filing if it can be consolidated with an a pre-existing Election Day. It previously was 88-125 days, so this will delay recalls a bit more. 

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