Federal Lawsuit Claims California Recall Election Unconstitutional

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Offering voters the chance to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom goes against the U.S. Constitution’s “one person, one vote” legal standard, a new lawsuit claims.

The recall election is slated to take place Sept. 14, and many voters have already received absentee ballots.

The lawsuit, filed by two eligible voters, seeks to stop the election.

The six-page filing claims that recall elections run counter to constitutional requirements, including that votes must “be of equal weight and power.”

But the recall provision in the California Constitution “does not establish a way for votes to be of equal weight and power, since the state officer sought to be recalled specifically is prohibited from running and cannot run to replace her/himself,” the suit states. “Most importantly, it creates a situation in which a larger plurality can support keeping the elected officer in office, while a smaller plurality has more say in whom the successor would be.”

Plaintiffs asked the court to declare the upcoming election unconstitutional. They want the election blocked until the matter is decided.

Ballots for the election have two questions. One asks whether the voter wants to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a first-term Democrat. The other inquires who the voter would choose to replace Newsom if he is recalled.

A simple majority vote would recall Newsom; his replacement would be whoever receives the most votes out of the field.

No major Democrats are on the ballot, a decision the party made to try to solidify support for keeping Newsom in office.

Top Republicans include EpochTV host Larry Elder, state Rep. Kevin Kiley, and businessman John Cox.

Several legal scholars have argued recently that the recall election is unconstitutional, despite it being enshrined in the state Constitution.

“By conducting the recall election in this way, Mr. Newsom can receive far more votes than any other candidate but still be removed from office. Many focus on how unfair this structure is to the governor, but consider instead how unfair it is to the voters who support him,” Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Law, and Aaron Edlin, professor of law at the school, wrote in a recent op-ed.

By Zachary Stieber

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