With only days to go before next Tuesday’s special recall election, all state registered voters are urged to cast a ballot. It’s hoped that with early voting centers available, and the convenience of mail-in ballots and drop boxes, it might boost the numbers of voters.
While recent polls are in the governor’s favor, Gavin Newsom is facing a vote that, if successful, could make him the third state governor in US history to be removed from office through a recall election.
This Republican-led recall election, which is estimated to have cost an estimated $276 million, reportedly gained a momentum heightened by the pandemic and the numbers of California’s homeless.
Two daunting issues that no California governor has ever had to contend with.
The recall campaign is being led by those who don’t represent the vast majority of the state’s population.
There is concern that the most active voters are elderly, white and wealthier than those who represent much larger numbers in the state, but don’t vote with the same frequency or may not vote at all — especially during special elections.
There is a voting gap and lack of engagement in communities of color, which could be caused by a variety of issues that includes a basic failure to reach them. If only a small percentage of voters participate in this election that don’t represent the diversity in California, it could make for drastic policy changes on issues of greatest concern for most state residents that include housing, employment, social services, racial equality and social justice.
A Republican governor could also tip the balance of power in the Senate by appointing a Republican for a vacant seat, and work toward having the GOP’s first US Senate seat from California since the early 1990s.
Ballot Question Causes Confusion
While getting out the vote is challenging during any off-year special election, voters are encouraged to return their ballot by mail and to cast their votes at special election centers already set up.
However, many voters have said they’re confused about how the recall questions are posed on the ballot itself.
At a recent media briefing held by Ethnic Media Services, state election officials responded to pressing questions about the recall.
The most frequently asked question that has caused questions and debate is if voters should respond to both Question 1 and Question 2 on the ballot.
The first question asks whether Gov. Newsom should be removed from office which requires either a Yes or No vote. The second question on the ballot —which is creating the most confusion, especially for those opposed to the recall — asks which candidate should be the governor’s replacement.
“If the voter votes ‘No’ on the first question and then writes in Newsom’s name to answer the second question, the first vote on question 1 will count … the second will not.” said Joe Kocurek, deputy Secretary of State for communications.
“If they write in Gavin Newsom and they vote on the recall question itself, the governor cannot appear on the ballot for himself. His write-in name will not be considered,” Kocurek said.
Voters have also asked if they have voted ‘No’ for the recall, and selected an alternative candidate for question 2 if that would invalidate their vote.
“Whether you vote yes or no on the recall, you can still cast a vote for a replacement candidate,” said Jana Lean, Chief, Elections Division for the Secretary of State.
However, listing Newsom as a replacement candidate will not be counted. The governor is not running as a replacement candidate for himself.
If more than 50 percent vote Yes to Question 1, the governor will be recalled. Question 2 will determine which candidate will replace him. The candidate who receives the most votes on Question 2 will be the next governor and will serve Newsom’s remaining term which ends Jan. 2, 2023.
Among the list of over 40 candidates who are challenging the governor during this recall are anti-vaxers and Trump supporters.
The most visible and vocal candidates include ultra-conservative talk show host Larry Elder and reality television star, former Olympian and transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner.
Gov. Newsom said at a recent rally that Elder goes against everything California stands for. “Trump was defeated in 2020, but Trumpism has not been defeated in this country. We have a chance to defeat Trumpism on Sept.14,” Newsom said.
Getting Out the Vote Is Challenging
Voter turnout is crucial in this election. But it has been challenging to circulate information, and get people — especially in disadvantaged communities — to attend recent “No on Recall” rallies.
Organizers said people may be reluctant to be around crowds during a pandemic; however local concerts and large events appear to be very well attended. A recent “No on Recall” rally held in the Northeast San Fernando Valley appeared to have more organizers of the event and political speakers than actual residents.
Meanwhile, state election officials emphasized that assistance is available for voters whether they are confused about the questions on the two-part ballot or if they need translation or other services.
There will be resources available, including the ability to call a translation service to set up a three-way call at a voting location. There are also hotline numbers available for voters to report any anomalies or concerns about voter fraud.
They also said voting centers and polling places would be taking COVID-19 precautions.
While voters are anxious to have a tally the night of the election, only unofficial results will be reported after the polls close. Election officials said a final count takes some time.
“County elections officials have 30 days after the election to complete the official canvass,” Lean said. “On the 38th day after the election, if the recall is successful, the Secretary of State will certify the election results, and the new governor would take the oath of office and assume the position for the remainder of the term.”
For a list of voting centers go to: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voters-choice-actFind official drop boxes and early voting locations at: VoterStatus.sos.ca.gov, CAEarlyVoting.sos.ca.gov, FindMyPollingPlace.sos.ca.gov.
After polls close, unofficial election results will be made available at ElectionResults.sos.ca.gov.
Hotline numbers: (800) 345-VOTE (8683) – English
(800) 232-VOTA (8682) Español/Spanish