Every voice counts — unless it’s to recall the governor of California

March 11, 2021

By Stephanie H. Freedman

Currently, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is being considered for a recall. Politico originally reported the bar is extremely high since organizers would need to collect nearly 1.5 million “valid” signatures. Outlets including the San Francisco Chronicle, ABC and more echo the same sentiment. 

Just a couple months ago, news outlets across the nation disparaged any attempts to question the validity of votes or signatures. The Los Angeles Times even reported that “rejecting ballots isn’t fair to voters”.

Since November, the media has been talking about how “every vote counts” and voter suppression is a major issue affecting our democracy. NBC reported on court decisions to “prohibit counties from rejecting ballots if the voter’s signature on it does not resemble the signature on the voter’s registration form”. The Atlantic bemused that signature matching is like “witchcraft” and could lead to thousands of legitimate ballots being thrown out. Vox wrote a lengthy article on how to check and fix if a signature was rejected. Slate speculated the signature matching process disportionately hurts minorities

After only a couple months, the coverage on signature verification quickly changed. With the signature deadline looming March 17, the Associated Press acknowledged “the need for a surplus of signatures since signatures are sure to be disqualified”. ABC News reported while the recall seems likely, the signatures still need to be verified. The Hill reported the recall effort “says” they have enough signatures, but the state will have to still confirm  the signatures are legitimate voters

As the media celebrate “democracy prevailing” in Washington D.C. a couple months ago, come next week, it will be interesting to observe the news coverage surrounding the signature validation process for the California recall. 


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