David Pollack

David Pollack

The recall process spelled out in the California constitution is problematic. The number of signatures required to trigger the election represented just 12% of the voters from the prior election. To get their name on the ballot, the 46 candidates each paid an approximately $4,000 filing fee in lieu of collecting 7,000 signatures as spelled out in the California secretary of state recall procedures.

It would be undemocratic in the extreme to imagine a scenario in which a slim majority of voters select “yes” and then choose a candidate who wins with less than 20% of the total vote. We could end up with a governor elected by less than 10% of all who cast a ballot. I for one want my state’s governor elected by and held accountable by a majority of voters, not a random person who cannot even get the full support of any of the major political parties.

The recall election has absolutely nothing to do with any issues of the governor’s performance and everything to do with the nationwide extremist power grab working to undermine confidence in the election process.

As with the storming of the Capitol by right-wing fanatics and voter suppression bills across the country from Texas and Arizona to Georgia and Florida, the objective is to sow doubt about independent election authorities as much as it is about depriving as many who are eligible their right to vote. The myth relentlessly promoted is that elections are rife with fraud. There is no room for voters, particularly voters of color, who seek to address accelerating wealth disparities.

We have a recall process that dates back to more than a century. The recall process came along with both the initiative and referendum processes, which were part of progressive era reforms that was a movement led here in California by then governor Hiram Johnson who was a staunch reformist. In the idea to keep elected officials more accountable, there was an error in the system they set in place, and now, more than 100 years later, our communities can suffer from systematic oversight. However, there are two immediate solutions our elected officials can take to make the recall process less archaic. One would be to hold a recall election and, in the event of a successful recall, the lieutenant governor would take the state’s top spot. The next solution would be to allow the elected official who was recalled to be allowed on the ballot as a selection. This would mitigate the issue of preventing the possibility of electing a person with less than 20% support into office.

All eligible voters will start receiving ballots in the mail any day now; the last day to vote is Sept. 14. Completed ballots can be mailed back postage paid or dropped off at any of the many official ballot drop off locations throughout the county.

The preservation of the election process is not a partisan issue. We need to preserve the voice of the people; we need to hold the people’s choice accountable; and we need to allow those officials to serve their constituents. The recall process was made to protect the people from criminals. It was not created to be a vehicle for sore losers. It was not created for a group of vocal minorities to manipulate the process. 

Ultimately, this election is about preserving our democratic process and defending it from its systemic flaws put in place by people of privilege. We can all send a message to the governor and every other office holder by participating in free and fair elections and then staying actively engaged to hold those officeholders accountable. This is why I’m voting “no” on the recall, and urge all California voters to do the same. 

David Pollack is a community organizer and running for San Mateo County assessor-county clerk-recorder and chief elections officer in the June 2022 election. He lives in San Carlos.

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(15) comments

Ray Fowler

Hello, David

Thanks for submitting your op-ed piece. While I don’t agree with your perspective, it’s important that we share our ideas with each other. I’d like to share mine...

You pointed out that only 12% of voters from the prior election are required to move a recall petition forward. However, the petitioners went beyond that percentage and recorded over two million signatures. If 12% is too low, what percentage should be required for a recall? It seems like the current 8% threshold to get an initiative on the ballot to change the state Constitution would work to the benefit of persons (like yourself) who want to change the recall procedure. However, if you believe 12% is too low, how do you feel about only 8% needed to change our state’s Constitution?

You make a point of saying it would be “undemocratic in the extreme” if a slim majority voted to recall Governor Newsom. How? I don’t know what will happen on September 14, but every person eligible to vote on the recall measure has the legal right to mail in a ballot, drop off their ballot or vote in person… or they can stay home. Can you explain what is “undemocratic” about giving every person who can vote the personal choice to either cast a ballot or decline to do so? Regardless of the outcome of the recall vote, the balloting which will decide the outcome is a democratic process.

You also opined that you want the “state’s governor elected by and held accountable by a majority of voters, not a random person who cannot even get the full support of any of the major political parties.” Two points to make here… first, most Californians are unaware that the person elected to the office of governor in our state was successful 14 times without achieving a majority of the votes cast… 14 times. They enjoyed a plurality but not a majority. (BTW… the same thing has happened 13 times in presidential elections over the years.)

Secondly, your assumption… “The recall election has absolutely nothing to do with any issues of the governor’s performance and everything to do with the nationwide extremist power grab working to undermine confidence in the election process,” is just false. The recall is about leadership. Governor Newsom, in my view, is a likeable person, but he has not provided the leadership needed to tackle California’s problems. The litany of failures was highlighted in another reader’s posting. I don’t hold our governor’s personal COVID gaffes against him. They might have been poor judgment, but everyone makes mistakes. I do find our governor’s claims that his COVID policies would be based on transparency and science as he withheld COVID data from the public to be a serious breach of trust… that’s very poor leadership.

OK... maybe three points... You object to the election of someone "who cannot even get the full support of any of the major political parties." Does a candidate for statewide office or any office have to be aligned with a political party? I switched my political affiliation from the Democratic Party to NPP almost 20 years ago (in those days it was called "Declined to State") and the number of NPPers in California has grown dramatically over the years since I switched. Would an NPPer be a less worthy candidate simply because he or she would not have the "full support of any of the major political parties"? And which recall candidate, who has declared him or herself to be a Democrat, has the Democratic Party endorsed?

Next, how exactly does your list of DNC/MSM talking points fit into a discussion of our state’s recall? How are you connecting the events of January 6, changes to election procedures in southern states, legal challenges to last November’s election results, etc. to September 14? Where is the nexus between an ultraconservative agenda… somewhere out there… and the ousting of a governor in a state with a 2 to 1 Democratic Party advantage over Republicans? More importantly… which Republican candidates, in your opinion, are connected to an extreme right-wing ideology?

Hiram Johnson… we’ll leave that topic for another day.

You make a good point that if a governor is recalled, maybe we should let the lieutenant governor finish out the recalled governor’s term. Maybe that can be added to a future statewide ballot as a Constitutional amendment.

You will vote against the recall. Someone voting against the recall because they believe Governor Newsom is doing a good job is OK. Voting against the recall and claiming that the recall is undemocratic purely because it has been initiated by folks who have a different point of view is not OK. David, I’m wondering what your op-ed piece would look like if a Republican governor was the object of a recall petition.

Circling back… you said, “The recall process was made to protect the people from criminals.” What makes the recall petitioners and voters who support the recall criminals? Lastly… you appear to decry the current recall effort by saying recalls were not created for a “group of vocal minorities to manipulate the process.” In other words, you are saying someone’s voice only counts if they are part of the majority. If that’s the case, how could anyone in the minority stand up to the tyranny of the majority?

Wilfred Fernandez Jr

Mr. Fowler,

You ask important questions and afford Mr. Pollack an opportunity to forge his metal. I wonder, will he step up or become another donkey upon which you pin the tail? [smile] Regardless, you are a class act.

Ray Fowler

Wilfredo... mi amigo

You are too kind.

I doubt if today's op-ed writer will respond. However, he may if his teleprompter has been programmed with more canned DNC talking points or someone slips him a notebook with quotes supplied by DNC chair Jaime Harrison. It's the same tired notebook... Jaime's name has been affixed on the outside to cover Tom Perez's name which was pasted over Debbie Wasserman Schultz's name.*

I don't much about the writer. He seems to harbor a hyper-partisan perspective for someone who is seeking a position that is non-partisan in nature. Don't get me wrong... a candidate's political affiliation for a non-partisan office should not make a difference unless that affiliation unduly influences the office holder's performance and conduct. I'm not saying that will be the case with the writer, but I'm sure he will be hustling from now until November 8, 2022, to get as many endorsements possible from local and county politicians who prominently feature a "D" behind their names.

* No... I didn't forget Donna Brazile. Somehow... her DNC notebook must have got wedged behind a file cabinet at CNN because the notebook Donna gave Hillary was not the DNC playbook... it was a notebook containing CNN's questions for an upcoming presidential debate.

Wilfred Fernandez Jr

Mr. Fowler,

It strikes me as odd that a graduate of George Washington University uses talking points for his argument. Also that he allowed the use of community organizer as his major vocation. Perhaps he merely intended to garner points with his intended audience. I have not forgotten, along with sounding smart while saying nothing, it was enough for another unaccomplished politician.

Tafhdyd

Wilfred,

I tried to read between the lines to decide who you were speaking about when you said "...sounding smart while saying nothing, it was enough for another unaccomplished politician.". Your description fits about 9,782 out of 9,800 politicians nationwide. How do I select?

Wilfred Fernandez Jr

Tafhdyd,

Bingo! I tip my coffee cup in your honor. 😉

Dirk van Ulden

Hello Ray - your reply maybe better suited for a Letter to the Editor. As with any other 'community organizer' he is totally devoid of logic and is unfortunately quite articulate. Only fools fall for their positions while they personally wallow in a very comfortable life, as his picture shows. I worked with these characters at the UC Office of the President. They are very convincing but without a moral compass as they watch and snicker while their audience falls for their lunacy.

Tafhdyd

Dirk,

As I mentioned to Wilfred about politicians, your comment about ...no moral compass...falls for their lunacy fits about 98% of all public and political positions nationwide. Do you have a solution?

Dirk van Ulden

Taffy - yes, we need a better informed voting public. I watched the Republican debate a week ago and there is Faulkner, the epitome of a blowhard. As long as there are folks like him and there are plenty on both sides, remember Obama, we continue to be in trouble when we believe them.

Ray Fowler

OK, Dirk... I'll do it.

Ray Fowler

It's on its way...

Lou

Mr. Pollack - WOW! Hard to comprehend, but some good will come from your post.........

(1) You lost my vote! and are helping Newsom's recall!

(2) We will save your post and circulate it before the 2022 election so that people are alerted to an example of uninformed "useful idiots" that are slipping through the cracks of the election process. And adding to the demise of our Republic.

Regarding your statement ...."The recall election has absolutely nothing to do with any issues of the governor’s performance and everything to do with the nationwide extremist power grab working to undermine confidence in the election process.".... Newsom's performance IS THE REASON for recall.

Dirk van Ulden

He would be the last guy to vote for as an election officer. The nerve to question decisions made by his ilk in Sacramento are beyond belief. Where was he when we questioned the fairness of the last general election? Elections are only fair in his book when he likes the outcome. Do not vote for this biased amateur.

Terence Y

So, Mr. Pollack, let me get this straight. The recall process is spelled out in the CA constitution, yet you feel it’s problematic? Then change the CA constitution. Don’t regurgitate the same hackneyed lies spewed out by the Democrat party that this recall has nothing to do with King Newsom’s performance. As for the recall process being made to protect people from criminals. I believe King Newsom is the criminal and the one protecting criminals. To wit, tremendous increases in crime, especially violent crime across CA. The release of thousands of inmates into the CA wild. Gas taxes and prices rising – seemingly every week – highway robbery. Imposing mask mandates while Newsom and other Democrats ignore these same mandates. Giving away $31billion dollars in EDD funds to criminals. Continuing to fund the train-to-nowhere boondoggle. Keeping public schools closed while his kid goes to an open private school. Idiotic water and electricity policies turning CA into a third-world state. Need I go on?

There’s no law saying voters must vote, so as far as anyone is concerned, if there’s only one vote, it’s a majority, and it counts. As for preserving the voice of the people, I believe the people have spoken. A recall vote. Seems to me, the people bellyaching about the recall process are the sore losers. Why are you afraid of a recall? Vote YES on the recall. BTW, for those voting for SMC assessor-county clerk-recorder and chief elections officer in the June 2022 election, you have a pretty good idea of where this candidate stands. Think about your stances on conspiracy theories, voter integrity, and free and fair elections and make the right choice.

wlydecker

"put in place by people of privilege..." I assume that means people who dine at the French Laundry.

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