Though ballots are already arriving for the September 14 California Gubernatorial Recall Election, many people remain confused about the process, even as voting gets underway. California Secretary of State Shirley Weber has answers to some of those important questions.

The recall has been part of California’s political system since 1911. It provides a mechanism for the public to attempt to remove elected public officials from office before the end of their term of office. Before a recall election can be initiated, a certain number of voters must sign a recall petition within a specified amount of time. The September 14, 2021, California Gubernatorial Recall Election ballot will have two parts:

  1. There will be a recall question presented on the ballot as follows: “Shall GAVIN NEWSOM be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?”
  2. Following the recall question, all qualified replacement candidates for the office of governor will be listed.

If a majority of the votes on the recall question are “Yes,” Governor Newsom shall be removed from office and the replacement candidate receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected for the remainder of the governor’s term of office (ending January 2, 2023). If one half or more of the votes on the recall question are “No,” Governor Newsom shall remain in office.

Since recall ballots have two parts, must voters vote on both parts of the recall ballot?

No. Voters can vote on either one or both parts of the recall ballot. A voter can vote “no” to the question of removing the current elected officer from office and also select a replacement candidate.

What happens after the recall election? 

If a majority of the voters vote “yes” on the first question, then the recall is successful and Governor Newsom will be removed from office. The replacement candidate who gets the most votes is elected for the remainder of the term of office (through January 2, 2023). 

If 50% or more of the voters vote “no” on the first question, then the recall has failed, and the Governor will remain in office. 

If Governor Newsom is recalled, when would a new governor take office? 

County elections officials have 30 days after the election to complete the official canvass. 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 (through January 2, 2023). 

Here are a few more recall election facts:

There are candidates from every part of the California political spectrum, including Democratic candidates. 

While the ballot has a line for write-in candidates, voters may only write-in someone who is a certified write-in and appears on the Secretary of State certified write-in list. All other write-in entries are discarded. 

Write-in replacement candidates must file a Statement of Write-In Candidacy with the county elections official of the candidate’s county of residence by August 31, 2021.

There have been attempts to recall 55 governors since the recall became part of California’s political system in 1911. So far, only one recall was successful: The recall of Democratic Governor Gray Davis, who was replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.
Learn more at: www.sos.ca.gov/elections/upcoming-elections/2021-ca-gov-recall/newsom-recall-faqs