There are a lot of things that make California unique. One of those is a direct democracy that gives the public the kind of power citizens in most states do not have over their state elected officials.
California is one of just 19 states that permits the recall of state officials. It is also one of 11 states that allows any registered voter to launch a recall campaign for any reason. Governor Gavin Newsom finds himself the target of a successful petition for recall, which means Californians can vote on whether or not he stays in office.
There have been 179 recall attempts since 1913. Only 10 have ever qualified for the ballot. Of those, just six succeeded. The most high-profile was the successful recall of Governor Gray Davis in 2003. He was succeeded by Arnold Schwarzenegger. There were also seven recall attempts against Schwarzenegger, but all failed to make the ballot.
How does a recall work?
To get a recall election on the ballot, a petition must be signed by enough registered voters to equal 12% of the turnout for the last election for governor and include at least 1% of the last vote for the office in at least five counties. Those promoting the recall have 160 days to gather signatures.
The California secretary of state has to verify the signatures. Voters who signed the petition have 30 business days to change their minds. That deadline to reconsider passed June 8. The final number of adjusted signatures, at least 1,495,709, were due June 22. More than 1.7 million people signed the Newsom recall petition, so campaigning had started by Father’s Day.
If the signatures are all verified, state election officials have 30 days to determine a budget and then the state legislature has 30 days to review the budget. After that, the election date can be set.
Why a recall?
Nearly every recall effort in California has been politically motivated. Most people believe the recall of Gov. Newsom is related to the safety measures and lockdowns he put in place at the beginning of the pandemic, as well as the abundance of caution used in reopening the state. The initial effort to recall the governor started in February 2020, and according to media reports, the petitioners’ complaints include concerns about immigration policies, the death penalty, tax rates, and the high rates of homelessness.
How will the recall election work?
The election will be held on Tuesday, September 14. There will be a period of early and absentee voting. People will be able to vote in person or by mail. The ballot will consist of two questions:
- Do they want to recall Gov. Newsom? Yes or no.
- If you vote “yes,” who should replace him?
If more than 50% of voters vote “no,” Newsom remains governor. If not, more than 40 Republican and Independent candidates wishing to replace him have registered to appear on the ballot.
How can you participate? Make Sure Your Registration Is Current
AltaMed has digital resources so you can check your registration status, get election notifications and reminders, or find resources to help you register. These tools are available at myvotemyhealth.org/vote. They are convenient, safe, and secure.
You can contact the California Secretary of State or your county registrar’s office for more voting information by visiting: