by Eric Torres, Editor-in-Chief
Californians will decide today whether or not first-time Governor Gavin Newsom should remain in office to finish out his first term.
Newsom, a member of the Democratic Party, has been met with strong backlash due to his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, many supporters of the recall effort cite the homeless crisis, sanctuary city policies and water rationing as other factors that led to their disillusionment with Governor Newsom.
This is only the second governor recall effort in the state of California to reach an election. Should the recall succeed, it will be only the third time in U.S. history that a governor has been removed via recall election, with the last time being in 2003 when Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced California Governor Gray Davis. According to the California Finance Department, the recall election is estimated to cost $276 million.
As in the 2020 General Election, Californians may vote either in person or by mail. On top of the millions of ballots mailed out, Californians had until September 7th to mail in a request for one. If one is voting by mail, then they must have their ballot postmarked by September 14, 2021. Otherwise, one can vote by dropping off their ballot at a secure drop box or by going to the polls in-person. Voters must be in line at polls or drop boxes by 8:00 p.m. tonight in order for their vote to count.
On the ballot, there are two questions. The first question asks whether or not Governor Newsom should be recalled. Those not in favor will mark “no,” while those who support the recall movement will vote “yes” and continue on to second question. The second question, which is only answered by those who voted “yes” on the first question, asks who should replace Governor Newsom. Obviously, the voter will mark whichever candidate they see as the best fit for California going forward.
If 50% or more of California voters vote “no,” then Gavin Newsom will remain in office until his term finishes next year. However, if more than 50% of voters are in favor of the recall, then Newsom is removed from office and replaced by whoever is the leading vote getter of the other candidates. Should Governor Newsom be removed, the new governor will take the oath of office and relieve Governor Newsom of his duties on the 38th day following the election.
The recall ballot features 45 candidates and a “write-in” option. Among these candidates, Republican radio talk show host Larry Elder and Democrat YouTuber Kevin Paffrath are by far the most popular choices should Governor Newsom be removed. Other notable names on the ballot are former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the 2018 Republican candidate for governor, John Cox.
In order to trigger a recall election in California, a recall petition must be signed by enough registered voters to match the amount of 12% of the previous gubernatorial election. In this case, that is 1.5 million voters. The signatures are verified by county officials, and if enough are verified and those voters don’t change their mind, then the Lieutenant Governor must set a date for the recall election. After the election, county election officials have 30 days to finish and certify the official vote counts, as the Secretary of State will then certify the election results on the 38th day following the election.
As of right now, polling data generally favors Governor Newsom, suggesting that he will defeat the recall effort and serve out the remaining year of his first term. According to RealClearPolitics, an estimated 56.3% of California voters are not in favor of the recall election, compared to 41.8% who are. However, despite Newsom being a Democrat from a heavily Democratic state, this is far from certain, as the voices of the people have yet to be heard.