(The Center Square) – California is keeping its governor, but taxpayers will have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to have done so.
Tuesday’s recall election has yet to be certified but voters in the Democratic stronghold made their choice clear enough that Gov. Gavin Newsom gave his victory speech little more than an hour after polls closed.
Newsom appears to have defeated the recall attempt by a 2-to-1 margin, far greater than pollsters initially had projected over the summer. In doing so, he garnered more than three times the number of votes than those who initially supported the recall election.
Around 1.7 million registered California voters signed a petition to recall Newsom. By comparison, more than 5.8 million voted against the recall. The state had 22 million registered voters as of Aug. 30, according to state records.
Estimations by California Secretary of State Shirley Weber show the recall election eventually will cost the state more than $276 million to conduct, according to a report from CapRadio. Others estimated the final price tag would reach over $300 million.
Weber pointed to the state’s relatively low signature threshold to spur a statewide recall election – 12% of the total votes cast in the last election for the challenged office – as an appropriate place for reform.
Assembly Member Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, is chairman of the Committee on Elections. He and his counterpart, Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Contra Costa, spoke to reporters about the costs and potential reforms to the process moving forward.
“I think the majority of Californians are very frustrated that we just spent $276 million on this recall election that, from the looks of it, has certified what voters said three years ago,” Berman said Wednesday morning. “We need to create a system where a small ... minority of Californians can’t initiate a recall.”
Much of the guidelines for holding recall elections is enshrined in the California Constitution, but many details are a matter of state law.
The lawmakers plan to hold hearings on potential changes this fall to make suggestions into legislation in January.
“The voters want to see a more democratic process in place that keeps elected officials accountable and prevents political gamesmanship,” Glazer said.