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Joshua Spivak: The California Recall majority voting conundrum: Is it unusual for Newsom to lose his seat and win more votes than a substitute?


The following is a post from Joshua Spivak’s Recall the Election Blog:

Now paying attention to one element of the recall California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) – how the recall works and whether it is “fair” or not. California’s revocation law uses a one-day, two-step process. Having an up or down vote on Newsom, where he needs to win a majority (or draw) to stay, combined with a simultaneous vote on the alternate candidate, counts only if Newsom loses. . The candidate to replace only needs a majority to be elected. Newsom was not allowed to run in his place. The result of this structure was that a replacement for Newsom was able to win the position with a fraction of the votes Newsom received upon losing his job.

Despite the fact that there were 135 candidates in the replacement ballot, this didn’t happen in the 2003 executive recall, when Arnold Schwarzenegger received nearly 200,000 votes in the replacement race versus Gray. Davis / No on Recall received. However, in the past 10 years, there have been at least five cases where elected officials were kicked out of summons outperformed the winners in the replacement race, including one. last year in Santa Ana, as well as the most recent state recall election, State Senator Josh Newman in 2018.

The question of whether a dismissal winner can get fewer votes than a dismissed official is not new. Nationally reiterating laws have shown efforts to solve the problem of how to choose a new candidate. Idaho uses one “Queen of the hill” regulation (the number of votes in favor of dismissal must be at the top of the number of votes the official receives in their win). Several local jurisdictions, as well as other countries, require what I call “veto is absent”- where the total number of voters to vote in a recall needs to be higher than a certain percentage of the population for a recall to be counted.

A change in withdrawal law is always a rule, not an exception. The original comprehensive California recalls study (Bird & Ryan’s 1930 book) notes that in California cities alone “… developed a variety of treatments for all characteristics. point of law that is difficult to think of. Any innovation that might happen has not been tested. “(58)

In 19 (or possibly 20) states in the United States that allow the summoning of governors or state officials, the main parts of the summoning structure are

1) Yes or No vote or just a new election;

2) a race to replace or fill a position in the matter as required by law (ie the Senior Governor takes over);

3) Whether a replacement race must be on the same day as the recall date or be staged on a different date.

Analysis of differences is as follows by state:

Yes or No, Replace on Date: California, Colorado

Yes or No, Replace Another Date, Georgia, Illinois (although the main date may be the same), Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island

Yes or No, replaced by Governor: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan (Governor only, changed 2012. All other recalls in the state use the New Election model. ), Oregon (No Governor, replaced by Secretary of State), Washington.

New election: Arizona, Nevada (if there are no other candidates running, it looks like it’s a yes or no vote), North Dakota, Wisconsin

Test Recall: Virginia (probably does not affect the Governor, can beat other state officials).

Even within these divisions, there are variations. In some places, a candidate is allowed to run in an alternate race, which has resulted in the strange outcome of the candidate being defeated and then replacing themselves.

Yes or No to a new election doesn’t seem fair, but the states most recently applying recalls (Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Georgia, and Montana) have all chosen this approach with an election. replacement race.

The states have also changed their laws over time. Oregon moved into the automatic replacement model (in fact, the statutory, not the electoral alternative) in the early years of the recall; Michigan does this change for the Governor in 2012.

Even California where there is same terms since 1911, there appears to be a New Election structure in one of its most important early recalls, against State Senator Edwin Grant. Contemporary reports claim that Grant lost 531 votes to his predecessor, Eddie Wolfe. No story seems to explain the difference in how revocation laws work, although it is possible that the election simply used San Francisco’s charter law New Election Terms.

It seems unfair that Newsom or any other official could lose positions to a substitute winning fewer votes. But California voters had 110 years to change this structure. The legislature was not shy about studying revocation laws – as we saw in 2017 with the passage of signature deletion law. Other states like Oregon and Michigan have seen their recall patterns change. It may be difficult, but if California voters really want the law to change, they can. Structure, put in place with over 76% of the vote support, should be respected.

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