News Analysis Apr 12, 2021 10:53 PM EST

Bill to reveal the names of California recall petitioners gains traction

The California state Senate Elections Committee has passed a bill that would reveal to the state the names and addresses of everyone who signs a recall petition to pull an elected official from office.

Bill to reveal the names of California recall petitioners gains traction
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY
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The California state Senate Elections Committee has passed a bill that would reveal to the state the names and addresses of everyone who signed the petition to pull Governor Gavin Newsom from office. SB 663 seems to be a tactic of voter intimidation.

State Representative Kevin Kiley tweeted about the bill's passage through committee, which if passed would in essence violate the rights of those who sought to remove Newsom but didn't want their names or addresses exposed to the draconian political leader. The petition against him is in part due to his Newsom far-reaching lockdowns that have destroyed countless numbers of businesses across the state.

The bill reads that the current law stands that a petitioner can remove their name from the petition before it is filed, but this instead would allow a petitioner to remove their name up to 45 days after filing. The bill would make "act, state and local recall petitions" available for public inspection if the number of signatures is over 50,000.

"This bill would... authorize the target of a recall petition to inspect the petition... for purposes of communicating with registered voters to determine whether they signed the recall petition and whether they understood the recall petition they may have signed, and to assist registered voters to withdraw their signatures on the recall petition, if they so desire."

The names of the petitioners would not be published, but they would be made known to the government, who would then be able to contact those petitioners to find out a) if they understood the petition, and b) inform them as to how to pull their name from the petition.

These things combined seem to be designed to intimidate voters into recanting their signatures on the petition. The petition reads that Governor Gavin Newsom failed at this job and destroyed the lives and businesses of too many hardworking California's, and it has been signed by over 2 million residents.

The petition cites the problems with housing and homelessness, rising crime, poor schools, the laws that failed freelancers and those in the gig economy, in addition to the lockdowns.

Ashley Zavala, who is a Capitol correspondent for a number of outlets, reported that because "this bill does not carry urgency," "it will not affect" the current recall process.

In March, Newsom launched his own campaign against the recall petition. He undertook to raise money to defend his position, and began a committee called "Stop the Republican Recall." Newsom has called the efforts to unseat him a plan of white supremacists and right-wing militia. The petition was filed by Orrin Heatlie, a retired county sheriff's sergeant. He called Newsom's allegations a "smear campaign."

Newsom told MSNBC "We're just concerned about violence moving into the future as we move farther and farther away from the January insurrection and we put down our guard. We must remain vigilant about these groups and how serious they are. All you need is about a quarter of the people who supported Trump to just sign a petition and it appears they've done that."

An effort to reveal the names and addresses of petitioners so that they can be contacted and questioned about their having signed brings up concerns as to the first amendment, which contains the provision that Americans have the right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The Supreme Court has roundly protected anonymous speech. In fact, the Supreme Court has specifically protected anonymous speech as regards the areas of political action. A civil rights case that was before the court, NAACP v. Alabama, ruled that despite the state's interest, the group did not need to turn over their membership list. This demand to turn over the names and addresses of those who want Newsom removed is only of benefit to the governor himself and his continued reign from Sacramento.

From here, SB 663 will continue through California's legislative process. Whether it passes or not, it is a very clear threat to those who would choose to unseat the powerful Democrat, or perhaps his allies. The bill is being sponsored by State Senator Josh Newman who campaigned for his seat in 2016 wearing a giant fuzzy bear suit.

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