Well, here's a consequence of voter apathy that I certainly didn't expect.
People have been moaning for years that every election seems to have a lower turnout that the last, with judicious nodding at the supposed causes (both candidates are weenies, usually).
But how many non-voters would expect that to force a recall one needs only as many signatures as a fraction of the number who voted last?
In California, a recall is forced if the recall effort can claim only 12% of the number of gubanatorial voters in the last election. Whose bright idea was that? If 9% of the voters turn out for an election, around 1% of the electorate could force an expensive recall election process?
It is especially ironic that the main excuse for the Gray Davis recall campaign is the California budget shortfall ...
What bugs me about this is that if 95% of the electorate aren't angry with the incumbent, he can still be recalled.
While there is some justification for allowing a small percentage of the voters who turn up to elect a governor (I mean, someone has to be governor. right?), it is not the case that a recall is necessary, so why accept small turnouts? Recall elections should probably be based on number of elgible voters, not number who turn out. If 12% of eligible voters sign the petitions, there is a recall election. If 51% of the elegible voters turn out and vote for a recall, you're gone. If a majority of elegible voters either isn't upset enough to turn up to recall you or thinks you're ok, the recall fails.
That is, if a recall shouldn't require a 2/3 majority. I think one of Heinlein's characters said something like this, that it should take a 2/3 vote to pass a law, and 1/3 to rescind it. If a law doesn't seem a really good idea, why have it? And if on reflection it upsets even 1/3 of the population then it is probably not a really good idea.