Gary Horton | Freedom and Tyranny on Recall Ballot

Gary Horton

Carrie and I received our California sample ballots a couple of weeks back. When we reviewed them, we were both proud of California for such a fine job done on informing constituents – and were also disgusted by how the recall process could be misused and corrupted by a small minority to upset democracy. 

First, the crazy, as we all know. Even Gov. Greg Abbot of Texas couldn’t dream up a more anti-democratic, voter-defying, electoral abuse than California’s gubernatorial recall process. With just 12% of voter signatures required to trigger a recall, from the get-go we have a minority tail wagging our Golden State dog. And with more than 1.5 million signatures counted and certified, now, on Sept. 14, we go to Gubernatorial Double Jeopardy Lightning Round. 

Yes, if Gavin Newsom is recalled (by anything over 50.00001% of voters, voting to recall) – any of the 46 (47, if you include write-ins) candidates with the most votes becomes our governor – for a whopping one year of excruciating political and economic turbulence. That’s right, anyone from Caitlin Jenner to Larry Elder to Angelyn, from reality TV stars to radio talk show hosts to perennial L.A. blonde aging poster babe, will be your next governor, no matter how few their votes – as long as they get the most out of the entire wannabe pile! 

Yes, someone with as few as 5, 7, 10% of all votes can and will be your governor, should Newsom be recalled by only 50.000001% of voters. Rather than reflecting majority rule democracy, this special election is a pricey legal tyranny orchestrated by a very small Republican minority, abusing recall laws to create havoc in a state actually doing far better than most in these most trying times.  

The best bet for democracy is plainly, and singularly, to vote Newsom to remain through to the 2022 election and then let him square off against a competitor, fair and square. Do we really think Larry Elder or Angelyn, or any of the 46, could beat Newsom, one on one? No. Thus, this election is simply an abuse and aberration of fair play and democratic principles. Still, we go to election not with the system we wish we had, but with the clunker we’ve got.  

Vote to retain Gavin Newsom, like him or not, to help put an end to our archaic and abuse-prone recall system. Otherwise, we might indeed come to see this again, every four years. 

Still, amidst this mess, I also feel proud for California. Unlike retrograde states like Texas, with Gov. Abbot literally doing almost anything to both COVID-kill his constituency and strip their ballots from their dying hands, California, on the other hand, is working hard to both protect our citizens from COVID-19 while we make voting accessible, easy and normalized.  

Our L.A. County sample ballot was wonderfully informative. It provided, in very easy to understand format, everything every voter needs to know to vote. How to use the machines. How exactly to vote by mail. When the deadlines occur. And importantly, the sample ballot included a full page describing your voting rights. 

The California sample ballot and subsequent election process is empowering to Californians. Regardless of how odorous this actual election might be, everyone should know what to do and how to do it,. We’re encouraged to vote, empowered to vote – in person, by mail, by drop-off, and with accommodations for handicapped voters. L.A. County and California are wonderfully, democratically administering this woefully undemocratic recall! 

And there’s more to be proud of. As a public notice, the sample ballot also includes important COVID-19 vaccination information. Why and how and where – and what is more important than that at our current moment? And earthquake preparedness information – always a timely reminder in this state.  

So, we have an L.A. County and state that work to get everyone eligible to vote, to vote. That’s an awfully nice feeling compared to the states we hear of nearly daily, piling voting restriction upon restriction. Yes, here we can help folks get to the polls. Here we can pass out water to folks waiting in hot lines. (Really, how could that ever be a crime, but it is, in Texas!) Here we can drive up to a drop-off drive-through or simply vote by mail. Your election; your choice how to vote.  

Or, move to Texas where the ICUs are stuffed full, but the ballot boxes are gutted out. I’ll pick the democracy and sanity of California – even given our twisted recall process. 

But please, when this is over, would we please change this silly, expensive, democracy-abusing, twisted law? 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board. 

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