Sensible Rules for Recall Elections
Marylander last edited by
Recently, the Governor of California survived a recall election.
The recall election worked like this: there are two questions on the recall ballot. There is a yes or no vote on whether or not the governor should be recalled, and there is a plurality vote on who should replace the governor if they are recalled. If the "yes" side prevails on the first question, then the winner of the plurality vote becomes the new governor.
This procedure seems faulty, not only because plurality voting is being used to select the replacement, but because you'd expect that whether or not a voter would support recalling the governor would depend on who the replacement would be, but the voter must choose before that is known.
Before the recall, Democrats feared that Republicans would be able to use this to get their candidate into office without facing scrutiny. I would not be surprised if they respond to this by either making recall elections more difficult to trigger, or scrapping them altogether. However, in principle, recall elections provide an extra layer of democratic accountability for elected officials. A well-implemented recall election rule could be a good thing.
One way to fix the flaw that voters must make a binding choice of whether or not to recall the governor before the replacement is known might be to hold an election for the replacement before the vote on whether to recall the governor, or to make the recall vote nonbinding and hold a runoff between the governor and the proposed replacement if a majority votes to recall. However, it would probably be better for the recall to only require one election.
Another way might be for voters to vote yes or no on whether they would support replacing the governor with each proposed replacement candidate. If no one reaches 50% yes, then the governor is not replaced, otherwise, the person with the greatest percentage of yes votes wins. Note that this is similar to approval voting, but with the governor automatically having a score of 50%.
However, the simplest solution would be to simply hold another election where the governor and potential replacements are all just treated as candidates, as they would be in an ordinary election. This is probably the a better course of action than the "vote on each replacement" rule if a good single winner method is used to choose the winner, but it would be unsurprising if they just implement this using plurality to select the winner.
"However, the simplest solution would be to simply hold another election where the governor and potential replacements are all just treated as candidates, as they would be in an ordinary election."
Yes, and to make it fair, it should use an evaluative system such as Approval, Score, or STAR.
An elaboration that would make it even more telling of public sentiment would include "None of the Above" as an additional candidate. If this symbol won, more candidates would be sought.
rob last edited by
However, the simplest solution would be to simply hold another election where the governor and potential replacements are all just treated as candidates, as they would be in an ordinary election.
Agree, although I think it should also require any candidate that replaces the governor to beat the governor by a certain amount. The low threshold for ousting someone who has been elected doesn't make sense. California's system is severely broken, and was a huge expense that was completely unnecessary.
Although, in the end, Newsome and Democrats probably benefitted from it this time around.
Marylander last edited by
@rob A threshold might make sense to try to restrict the function of recall elections to removing incumbents has broadly lost credibility with the public, and not just when partisan opponents want to replay the previous campaign.
However, to stop that, it would probably be just as important to make recall elections more difficult to trigger, as a lowered chance of success might not discourage groups from initiating these kinds of recalls if they can still trigger them easily, since the groups that pushed for this recall already either don't seem all that discouraged by a low chance of success or aren't realistically estimating it anyway.
rob last edited by
@Marylander Yes agree completely that it makes more sense to make it more difficult to trigger them in the first place. The whole thing needs a rethinking, it doesn't seem to be designed for our highly polarized world.
Of course, if any of the methods advocated in this forum were used to elect the governor in the first place, there would be far less likelihood of there being a motivation to do a recall.