Wednesday, October 22, 2003
I guess this should come as no surprise, but some politicians now want to make it harder for their constituents to recall them. California Assemblymember Mark Ridley-Thomas has introduced a bill to increase the number of signatures required to hold a recall election in California. (see details in this Sacramento Bee story.)
Now, many people think the recall of California's Gray Davis was a mistake. That's fair enough, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But in this case, those folks were in the minority, so out Davis went.
So now some folks are saying it was too easy for the recall question to get on the ballot in the first place. After all, we wouldn't want a situation where incumbents who really did have the support of most people were effectively unable to govern because some radical fringe was constantly subjecting them to recall elections. A recall should only make the ballot when a sizeable chunk of the electorate thinks its warranted.
But California hardly has a run-away recall process. The Washingon Post reported on June 10, 2003 that activists have tried 31 times to recall California's governor in recent history. And guess what, only one of those made it to the ballot. From the day that recall qualified, a majority of voters polled were supporting it, so this was not a case of the state being hijacked by some minority faction.
In fact, if anything, this most recent California recall was too HARD to qualify. It would probalby not have succeeded without millions of dollars from an ultraconservative politician, Darrell Issa. The specter that one single rich person could qualify a recall simply by paying signature gatherers, no matter how many signatures are required, is cause for concern.
So rather than looking to make it harder for regular citizens to use the recall process, perhaps the Assembly should lower the signatures needed but then place limits on the use of big money to fund signature drives.
See also this story from Wisconsion where a Senator is facing a recall that appears to have been qualified by paid signatures.