By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — A majority of likely California voters are in favor of seeing proposals to reform the recall process on the 2022 ballot, new polling data released Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California revealed.
The PPIC survey, which was conducted from Jan. 16 to Jan. 25, found that 72% of Democrats, 55% of Independents and 47% of Republican voters are in favor of seeing recall reform proposals on the ballot in November. Overall, 60% of likely voters are in favor of seeing proposed reforms on the ballot, the PPIC concluded.
The data comes as Democratic lawmakers are considering ways to reform the recall process following an attempt to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom via a recall election in September. On Tuesday, California lawmakers met to discuss potential changes to the recall process in a third and final hearing.
Secretary of State Shirley Weber spoke with legislators Tuesday about several areas of reform, offering suggestions on how to make the recall process less confusing for voters. During her comments, Ms. Weber recommended making the recall question on the ballot separate from the question of who should replace the governor, noting that putting the two together makes it “convoluted” for voters.
Ms. Weber also voiced support for the lieutenant governor taking over to finish the gubernatorial term when a governor is recalled. In January, Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, brought forth a proposal that would require the lieutenant governor to take over as governor for the remainder of the term if a sitting governor is successfully recalled.
“I know that the lieutenant governor is not excited about stepping into that role, but the reality is, that’s why we have a lieutenant governor — as a fail safe,” Ms. Weber said Tuesday. “To be able to have someone who is prepared, who has experience, who can step into that role. When you pick a lieutenant governor, you should be picking someone you believe will step into that role.”
According to the PPIC survey, half of likely voters support this proposed change. The poll found that 67% of Democrats would support this change, while only 28% of Republican voters and 40% of independents said they would be in support.
Other proposed changes to the recall process include increasing the amount of signatures needed to spur a recall election.
Ahead of the September recall election targeting Gov. Newsom, recall supporters had to collect 1.5 million signatures — equal to 12% of the total votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election — to qualify.
According to the PPIC, 50% of all likely voters are in favor of increasing the signature requirement to 20%, though partisan groups are largely divided. According to the PPIC, 69% of Democrats said they would support making this change, while only 22% of Republican voters and 39% of Independents said they were in favor.
During Tuesday’s hearing, some Republican lawmakers pushed back on the idea of reforming current recall statues, saying they don’t see a need for it.
“As we commence today, I’ve been increasingly of the mind that there is no need to change the recall process,” Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Red Bluff, said Tuesday. “Certainly no significant need, and that’s become more of a hardened position with me the more we’ve been through these hearings.”
Other legislators, however, said changes are needed in order to ensure improvement to the process moving forward.
“The recall is an important tool of the electorate to hold officials accountable — one that I strongly support,” Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Contra Costa, said Tuesday. “However, as we have heard from many witnesses, there are some issues. There are some concerns, there are some democratic flaws about how the process is conducted in California.”
Madison Hirneisen covers California for The Center Square.