California: Recall Election, Sept. 14


Last updated 9/2/2021 at 10:20am

California voters are up-in-arms for the 2021 California gubernatorial recall election, deciding whether or not to remove Gavin Newsom as governor, three years into his first term.

Here are a few things people should know:

How does the recall election work?

Like any statewide election, eligible Californians will be able to cast a vote. All California active registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the September 14 recall election. County elections office will begin mailing ballots by August 16.

The recall ballot will ask two questions:

1. Do you want to recall Governor Newsom? and;

2. If the governor is recalled, who do you want to replace him? (In this question, voters will be asked to select from a list of candidates who they would like to replace Newsom.)

If a majority votes NO on the first question to recalling Newsom, then he will remain in office and the results of the second question does not matter. However, Californians may still vote on the second question, or leave it blank.

If a majority votes YES that they want to remove Newsom, then whoever gets the most votes on the second question wins and becomes governor, even if they only received a fraction of the vote.

When would the new governor take office if the recall is successful?

County officials have up to 30 days after the election to finish tallying the vote count. If the recall is successful, the secretary of state would certify the results on the 38th day after the election and the new governor would take the oath of office. The new governor would serve the remainder of Newsom’s term through January 2, 2023.

Has a recall election ever happened?

The state’s recall mechanism has been part of the law since 1911. Every governor in the past 60 years has faced a recall effort. This is only the fourth gubernatorial recall election in U.S. history. However, only one governor was successfully recalled: Governor Gray Davis (D) was ousted in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In the recall, 55 percent of voters said they wanted to recall Davis, and Schwarzenegger won the seat with 48 percent of the vote over more than 100 other candidates.

Who is running to replace Newsom?

There are currently 46 candidates from both parties in the running looking to replace Newsom.

Why is Newsom up for a recall anyway?

A recall was launched against Newsom last year with many frustrated over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and his regulations and rules over businesses.

One of the major turning points for the recall came when Newsom attended a dinner in Napa Valley during the time he urged Californians to stay home and avoid large gatherings. He later apologized, however, it was shown as hypocritical and a key point.

A judge gave organizers four more months to collect signatures because of the pandemic restrictions, in which succeeded. They managed to gather nearly 1.5 million valid petition signatures to qualify. This recall election comes just a year before he planned to run for reelection.

Could the result be challenged?

Yes, it can be. There’s a federal lawsuit two voters filed arguing that the recall vote is unconstitutional; legal experts are doubtful that the suit will go anywhere. The Los Angeles Times also looked into the likelihood of a legal challenge overturning the recall and determined the recall probably would survive. Like it or not, California’s recall law is set up to allow the will of the minority to oust a sitting governor.

How can Californians vote in the recall election?

To vote in the in the recall election, eligible California voters can return their ballots via the United States Postal Service or any official vote-by-mail drop box, or drop them off at any participating vote center in certain counties. No postage is necessary, but voters must sign the back of the vote-by-mail envelope. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before Election Day, and be received by county election officials by September 21. Californians also have the option to vote, or register, in person either early or on Election Day. While dates, times and locations for early voting vary by county, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST on Election Day. In-person voting locations will offer voter registration, replacement ballots, accessible voting machines, and language assistance to those who need it.

REMEMBER: You must SIGN AND DATE your return envelope for your ballot to be counted!

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