Bill to reveal signees of Calif. recall petitions won’t move forward

Politics

A man signs a petition as conservative activists gather signatures in a recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom near Pasadena City Hall, in Pasadena, California on February 28, 2021. (Photo by DAVID MCNEW/AFP via Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A proposal to let California politicians targeted by recall efforts see who signed petitions to oust them will not move forward this year.

State Sen. Josh Newman had previously told Inside California Politics the policy was “meant to strengthen (the recall process) by clarifying some provisions within it to make sure it’s transparent and fair.”

He said the bill was intended to give officials a chance to contact petition signees and make sure they had understood what they agreed to, given some people may have been duped into signing a recall they don’t actually support.

But the lawmaker says he pulled his bill Tuesday because of the charged atmosphere around the likely recall against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. His bill would not have passed early enough to affect the Newsom recall, but Newman, a Democrat, says the discourse around it made it hard to have a “thoughtful discussion.”

Recall campaign organizers had become vocal opponents of the effort, saying it would violate citizen privacy and intimidate voters. Orrin Heatlie, the leader of the recall drive, told the Associated Press it would have served “only to intimidate those would-be petitioners from signing or goad people who signed to rescind their signatures in fear of retaliation.”

“They were sort of leveraging this bill and representing this bill as an attack on not just the recall but on them and their constitutional rights,” Newman told the AP. “It wasn’t a good context to have a conversation.”

Recall supporters gathered 2.1 million signatures in about nine months. Next week, it’s expected enough will be verified by election officials to qualify the recall for a ballot that will ask voters two questions: Should Newsom be recalled? Who should replace him?

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