Just pick one...
August 10, 2003 6:59 AM   Subscribe

There will be over 150 candidates on the ballot at the California recall. Does anyone else think that this might lead to ballot woes? Will officials use a 'butterfly' design to save space? What are your thoughts on this?
posted by clevershark (40 comments total)
If I was a cellphone, what would my ringtone be?
posted by angry modem at 7:38 AM on August 10, 2003

I about spit out my coffee upon reading the first paragraph:

"LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) --
A Hollywood action hero, a porn publisher and a handful of politicians walk into a courthouse. "

What moron wrote this? You'd think that someone at CNN would know that Larry Flynt isn't walking anywhere after being paralyzed in 1978, after being shot practically in CNN's backyard (Lawrenceville, GA).

posted by jpburns at 7:50 AM on August 10, 2003

angrymodem: "Cavatina" by Stanley Myers?
(Check his user page kids ;-)
posted by i_cola at 7:54 AM on August 10, 2003


Well, the world don't march to the beat of just one drum,
What might be right for you, may not be right for some!
posted by Blue Stone at 8:16 AM on August 10, 2003

Any thoughts?

Here's an idea for the ballot (via defective yeti).
posted by electro at 8:29 AM on August 10, 2003

I'd like to be the first to say I think this whole election is a good idea. Not necessarily the recall part, but the part about anyone and everyone needing just a minimal number of signatures and a small amount of cash to be on the ballot.

If you think about it, doesn't this beat the HECK out of only having TWO choices, and ONLY TWO choices?

Political parties have NO basis in the US Constitution, they are strictly private affairs. So they should have NO special legal recognition, protection or ability to exclude from elections those who do not belong to their enormous "clubs".

Having "Randy of the Redwoods" on the ballot is *not* an imposition on democracy, if he can get a thousand of his friends to sign his petition.
posted by kablam at 8:36 AM on August 10, 2003

Well the good thing is that the media is acknowledging that there are dozens of candidates in this election, in Florida most people were surprised at the ballot office to find out there were more than three (I'll include Nader) people running.
posted by bobo123 at 9:05 AM on August 10, 2003

If you think about it, doesn't this beat the HECK out of only having TWO choices, and ONLY TWO choices?

With 150 candidates, it's possible that one could win with just 0.67% of the vote. That's not a good thing. I think the optimal number of candidates is somewhere between 2 and 150.
posted by jpoulos at 9:34 AM on August 10, 2003

It would be cool if there were 150 and then several rounds of run-off voting. Our system of voting is messed up, and we are going to need creative ways of fixing it. I think the recall is politically motivated, and ridiculous, but that it might turn out to be interesting for americans to see the voting process as something they can be involved in. As it stands right now politicians are some 'other' group of professional rulers. It doesn't have to be that way.
posted by goneill at 10:23 AM on August 10, 2003

We be3at the tacosout of Mexico during the Mexican war (Grant, in the military opposed this war), and we forced them to give us much land --all of lwer Calif, Texas, New Mex, Arizona etc--and we told them we would buy it at what wedecided to payu for it: take it orl eave it. Now may be the time to give it back, slow down illegals, mess up the drug trafficers and ask the President to relocate to Ct or to Maine. Or become Mexian.
posted by Postroad at 10:32 AM on August 10, 2003

Will there be ballot problems? Yes.
posted by pitchblende at 11:02 AM on August 10, 2003

yeah that's great. let's see.. with low voter turnouts that are the norm here in the states, consider that the current governor may end up on the ballot even if he is booted. if that happens, people may still vote for him and then (stupid polls right now say 40-45% would vote for him again) the REMAINDER of that gets split between 149 or so candidates? what if it isn't a wash for ahnold? everyone will be holding 2-4%...

our republic methods don't scale well in a situation like this. regardless, my buck is on Gary Coleman.
posted by shadow45 at 11:17 AM on August 10, 2003

Isn't it a little early to be posting drunk?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:39 AM on August 10, 2003

Hey, it's noon some where!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:32 PM on August 10, 2003

Wait, there's a recall election in California?


Why isn't this being covered in the major media? Censorship?

posted by Outlawyr at 12:43 PM on August 10, 2003

Here are the State gubernatorial totals from the last election (pdf format).

Last time they had fifteen candidates. Nine got 0.0% of the vote. It will be very interesting what will happen now that only ONE political party has a candidate (Arnold).

This is going to be one heck of a show. Uh, assuming Davis is recalled.
posted by kablam at 1:38 PM on August 10, 2003

Vote Precious Party!
posted by homunculus at 1:40 PM on August 10, 2003

I like the retired policeman who is running on a platform of legalizing ferrets as pets.

Seriously. I can't remember where I read it, but that's true.
posted by pmurray63 at 3:01 PM on August 10, 2003

Uh, assuming Davis is recalled
That's really what I'm hoping for.
How sweet it would be to have 51% of people say he shouldn't be recalled...and the crowd just dissipates.
I doubt enough people will become mobilized for this, though.
posted by Busithoth at 3:02 PM on August 10, 2003

What, ferrets aren't legal as pets in California?

Seriously, how is this election to be carried out? It would be the hight of absurdity if there was not some kind of transferable vote or run-offs. In fact, with this many candidates, I would have thought 3 or 4 rounds of voting would be necessary. We're surely not going to see Arnie become "The Legislator" with a popular vote of 2% are we?
posted by salmacis at 3:22 PM on August 10, 2003

Even in California, the ordinary, boring, drone people outnumber everybody else by a huge percentage. They *will* have an ordinary, boring, drone candidate who will not threaten them with change, or color, or intellect.

When they discover which candidate has the personality of overcooked pasta, he will be a shoe in. Failing that, the fall back position is celebrity. Arnold.

I'm reminded of the 'Futurama' episode, "A Head in the Polls", with the two clone candidates, Jack Johnson and John Jackson. "Standing against those things that everybody hates."
posted by kablam at 3:36 PM on August 10, 2003

I still cannot understanding what the hell is happening in California. They seem to have an ineffective governor who is presiding over the worst state budget collapse in history. The budget problems have many many causes from loss of tax revenue, badly thought out spending programs, energy deregulation and the rape of consumers by the energy companies, unfunded federal mandates (no child left behind and homeland security) and republicans within the state legislator working to further weaken social programs. Gray Davis, being the leader, gets the whole steaming pile of bile dropped in his lap. Now, what's the solution to all this? Spend alot of California's money on a recall that puts a action figure in power. How does this solve any problems? As far as I can tell, if Arnold wins the state government is still going to be festering in a pool of its own stool.
I seem to enjoy rhyming scatological imagery today
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:23 PM on August 10, 2003

IMHO, this circus is just being carried out because Californians don't want to face the difficult task of actually fixing the problems they face. Instead, they are distracting themselves with spectacle.

Not to pick on Californians, of course. This seems to be a common American affliction.
posted by moonbiter at 6:43 PM on August 10, 2003

With 150 candidates, it's possible that one could win with just 0.67% of the vote.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Americans really need to lean about preferential voting because it would solve so many of your problems. For a start, it:
requires the winning candidate to secure either an absolute majority (50%+1) of the primary vote or an absolute majority after the distribution of preferences
It is, however, completely incompatible with your infamous punch-card system, so you'll need to scrap that wonderful invention.
posted by Jimbob at 7:36 PM on August 10, 2003

I think there's one easy way out of their budget problem: the New York City/Singapore solution. That is, eliminate jail punishment for non-violent misdemeanors (in itself saving a ton of money), and fine the hell out of everybody for doing anything wrong.
Basically, this amounts to making all city and county misdemeanor law the purview of the State and appointing a single Czar to oversee all appeals. Misdemeanors cease to be "crimes", and become "administrative fines" for this reason--no court trial or appeal except to the administrator.

Spitting on the sidewalk-$50; public indecency-$100; simple assault-$500; drugs-$1,000; the list goes on and on. You only go to jail if you have no cash or assets to forfeit. If you do go to jail, you get to work to pay off your fine. If you really want to go for the gold, all traffic fines become administrative, too.

And, here's one for the masses: willfull contempt by rich people to the law is worth a pro-rated fine. For a poor guy, it's $50, for a rich guy, $5,000.

All fines go to the State, the cities getting rebates from the State appropriate to the revenue raised. We're talking budget *surplus* in six months.
posted by kablam at 8:07 PM on August 10, 2003

A lot of people don't seem to like California.

posted by linux at 10:10 PM on August 10, 2003

The financial disclosure forms indicate that Arnold should not become governor, because it will only increase the budget shortfall by several million dollars if he is "taken off the rolls" and forced into public service. Without Terminator movies, the California economy will suffer.

It's quite strange that California would have such stringent requirements for initiating a recall, and arguably the filing fee, but the 65-signature requirement is lunacy. The normal requirement is 1% of registered voters -- which in California would be about 140,000. The problem seems to be the treatment of all candidates for this election under write-in rules, which doesn't make very much sense; the whole problem here is that they're all going to be on the ballot, not written in at all. Surely, because there will be no primary, they all should be treated by the independent candidate rules cited above, unless I'm missing something. There's also a complicated method of gathering signatures in lieu of paying the filing fee, another legacy of the Progressive direct-democracy era, no doubt, just to confuse things further. Is it perhaps the case that, in all the rush, no reporter has verified that all 150 candidates are bound to appear on the ballot, and that major candidates with some kind of party backing, such as Schwarzenegger, have satisfied the higher requirements of being an independent candidate? Even this article seems confused which requirement governs.

Nonetheless, I predict that court challenges will fail and the recall will proceed; it seems to have been initiated legally. I also predict that by the end of the next legislative session there will be a change to this law to provide a higher bar to becoming a candidate, something closer to the "1%" cutoff. Heck, my mom had to get 50 nominating signatures just to run for county board, and she represented all of 5000 people, half of whom weren't even registered voters -- and in off-year elections, which like Congress include half of them, there might be 100 people who bothered to vote.

In any case, I also predict that it will be a moot law, because California will be so scarred by the experience, they'll never hold a recall again.
posted by dhartung at 11:25 PM on August 10, 2003

A lot of people inside California don't like it anymore.

But as long as California has the lion's share of the U.S.'s border with Mexico, as long as the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl show Pasadena with sunny weather every New Year's Day, as long as those old movies about Hollywood are still in circulation, as long as this is the farthest Americans can go west before falling into the Pacific Ocean, California will continue to have a rising population and a declining average IQ.

California has a reputation for being where trends begin that spread to the rest of the U.S., and often enough to the rest of the world. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
posted by wendell at 11:42 PM on August 10, 2003

But as long as California has the lion's share of the U.S.'s border with Mexico,

Minor nitpick. The border with Mexico is about 3,100 miles long. Only about 150 of that is with California. Texas, by far, has the lion's share of the border.
posted by obfusciatrist at 12:03 AM on August 11, 2003

An olympiad shall decide the top five spots.
posted by rudyfink at 1:34 AM on August 11, 2003

Good analysis, dhartung (as usual).

Of course, every state has terribly flawed laws on the books that sit for years and years, unused and untested, until somebody makes the boneheaded move of trying to enforce or otherwise use it, all hell breaks loose, lives are damaged (usually both the person(s) who try to use it and who have it used upon), and either an embarrassed legislature tries to correct it, or an embarrassed judiciary change it for them.

The recall law sat on California's books for ninety years unused, with its populist influence responsible for its very visible fatal flaw, that in its two-part single-ballot structure it was possible for a sitting governor to be removed from office with many more votes (up to 49%) than the challenger chosen to replace him (a plurality... with 150 candidates, theoretically, 1%). Through all past gubernatorial crises of confidence, the recall was never invoked. But today, in an increasingly self-destructive political environment, there was one California political player, Darrell Issa, who had both the resources and the stupidity to bankroll the petition drive that brought the process forward. Most partisan Republicans could safely cheer on his efforts, with the knowledge that Issa would himself pay as much the price as Governor Davis, the object of the campaign. No wonder Issa cried when he withdrew from the race; he knew that, more than his Gubernatorial aspirations were dead - his entire political future was destroyed.

It must be noted that not a single one of the 150 remaining names on the ballot has much to lose by losing the election. Schwartzeneggar would return to his very lucrative Hollywood career, with a political practice run under his belt. Cruz Bustamente would still be Lieutenant Governor (nothing in this election directly affects his job), earning political brownie points for trying to clean up after Davis. Bill Simon gets his shot at 'revenge' for Davis' bitter campaign against him. Semi-outsiders like Arianna Huffington and Peter Ueberroth get to take a half-step into the fray without getting too dirty. Maybe State Senator Tom McClintock is risking a backlash if he divides up the conservative vote enough to let a more liberal contender win (obviously Insurance Commissioner Garamendi on the liberal side withdrew for just that reason). The 'side-show' candidates from Larry Flynt and Gary Coleman to that TV producer trying to make his campaign into a "Reality Show", get a dose of "no such thing as bad publicity". And 30-million dollars is not that much in a state where a 30-Billion (with a B) dollar budget imbalance cut painfully to 8-Billion in the last few weeks.

But will California really learn from this mistake? Or will a vengeful Democrat with a couple million dollars to throw around (there are a few of them) start a "Recall Arnold" campaign the day after his inauguration, while a heavily-Democratic state legislature looks the other way and whistles in the dark? Could happen.

As I said in my previous comment, be very afraid.
posted by wendell at 1:36 AM on August 11, 2003

obfusciatrist: Thank you for the non-snarky tone of your "minor nitpick"... you must be at the wrong site (minor joke). I should have said something like: "with California having some of the most popular border entry points with Mexico (managed and unmanaged)".
posted by wendell at 1:46 AM on August 11, 2003

California is the only state where ferrets are strictly illegal, thanks to a rash (i.e., two) of children getting seriously bitten by ferrets owned by morons who didn't know how to bite-train them.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:31 AM on August 11, 2003

Ferrets were illegal in Massachusetts for many years; they are still illegal in California and Hawaii.

This page talks about some of the (mistaken, in the page's author's opinion) reasons states and municipalities have outlawed ferrets.

I believe that the rationale for the Massachusetts legislation was that escaped ferrets would eat songbirds and chipmunks and other cute, fluffy things. The legislature finally made it legal to sell ferrets because a) they were sick of being lame about cool stuff like ferrets and tattoos, and b) too many people were selling ferrets out of their apartments, which could have posed a public health and animal cruelty risk.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:31 AM on August 11, 2003

Or will a vengeful Democrat with a couple million dollars to throw around (there are a few of them) start a "Recall Arnold" campaign the day after his inauguration, while a heavily-Democratic state legislature looks the other way and whistles in the dark?

Why would the legislature have to look the other way? As far as I can tell, doing so would be perfectly kosher under CA law and would not require the legislature's consent or approval in any way.

ISTR that the threat is already out there, but I can't remember whether it was made by someone with the means to put it into place.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:38 AM on August 11, 2003

I still cannot understanding what the hell is happening in California.

this cannot surprising me be.
posted by quonsar at 10:03 AM on August 11, 2003

Even more interesting than not liking California is that everyone here assumes this recall and replacement process is a "bonehead" move.

It's never been done. We don't know how it will turn out.

Are you ready to eat crow if, say, Arnold gets in the governor's mansion and proceeds to define the success of California for the next 100 years?

I like my glass half-full.

Probably because I'm a Californian.
posted by linux at 10:10 AM on August 11, 2003

Californians: glass half full, head half empty.

Sorry, linux, didn't mean it personally. I can't believe what an awful precedent this sets, though. I mean, you could theoretically have a handful of millionaires recalling each other back and forth until they run out of money, right? (Or the voters get sick of it). How is a governor supposed to be effective if he only gets a few months to magically make everything better?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:51 AM on August 11, 2003

Sounds like a good way to solve California's economic problems to me, Civil_Disobedient; just think of the armies of campaign staff they'd have to employ. It's like the lottery, but for rich people - wealth redistribution under a prettier name.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:04 AM on August 11, 2003

I'm not a fan of Gray Davis, but he was re-elected last year, and there have been no new revelations of any malfeasance on his part since the election.

(California gubernatorial election results for 1998 and 2002.)
posted by kirkaracha at 11:44 AM on August 11, 2003

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