California recall election: mail-in balloting begins

The California gubernatorial recall election has officially begun with Monday marking the first day of mail-in voting.

At a "Vote No" rally in San Jose, Governor Gavin Newsom reminded people that while September 14th is election day, voters should think of that as a deadline. All registered voters should have received a ballot in the mail one month in advance.

"This election starts officially today. All Californians are receiving a mail-in ballot today in the state of California," said Newsom.

That means candidates are trying to mobilize their supporters to turn out on election day or turn in their ballots.

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One Alhambra voter Beatrice Cardenas posted a video Monday on Twitter @RealBetyCardens showing her casting her "Yes" vote and selecting Republican Kevin Kiley of Rocklin as a successor.

"I feel like the process is good in the sense of getting mail-in ballots makes it easy, but the fact of the recall is pretty frustrating," said Jahan Sagafi, an Oakland voter.

Recent polls show a possible 50-50 split in support for the recall, with Republicans much more energized.

Governor Newsom needs only 50% or more voters to vote "no" on the recall to stay in office.

Getting his supporters mobilized, however, might be difficult.

"I don't think we're talking about it yet. I think there's a lot going on. The delta variant, what's going on in Afghanistan," said Natalie Orozco of Oakland, who says her neighbors and friends haven't shown much interest so far.

"I don't know if I'm going to vote. I mean I have all the stuff at home," said Randy Campbell, an Oakland resident who says he was disappointed by Newsom's appearance unmasked at the French Laundry restaurant during the pandemic.

"I feel like Newsom brought it on himself with a double standard," said Campbell, "Doing the mask mandate, but he's not playing by the same rules."

Other voters say they feel the recall is a bad use of taxpayers' funds.

The election is estimated to total about $276 million in costs for state and local counties to administer.

"I am definitely not for recalling him. That's a waste of our money," said Mary, an Oakland woman who didn't want to share her last name.

The first question on the recall ballot asks voters to indicate yes or no as to whether to recall Governor Newsom.

The second question is who his successor should be. There are 9 Democrats listed, 24 Republicans, 2 Green Party candidates, 1 Libertarian, and 10 "No Party Preference" candidates.

Governor Gavin Newsom's name is not listed in the second question which asks about his "successor."  U.C. Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote an op-ed in the New York Times saying he believes the state's recall process is unconstitutional.

If Newsom falls short in the first recall question with 49% of the vote, then his successor could take office with only a plurality or a very small fraction of voters' support.

"That seems inconsistent with basic principles, a majority vote, the idea that everybody's vote should count equally," said Chemerinsky.

Chemerinsky says a lawsuit or action by the legislature to make the Lt. Governor the successor if the recall is successful, could address the constitutional issues raised.

He says if there are no changes to the process before election day, voters should select a candidate in the second question. He notes that adding Newsom's name as a write-in candidate in the second question probably would not legally be considered a valid choice.

"The California Constitution says it's about choosing his successor, which implies somebody different. So, if Newsom is recalled, whoever gets the most votes on the question is Governor. If people don't vote, then (they're) leaving it to others to decide," said Chemerinsky.

The deadline to register for the recall election is August 30th. Voters can still cast a conditional ballot on election day if they go to a polling site.


CA Secretary of State Recall Election website

List of certified candidates

UC Berkeley's Dean Erwin Chemerinsky's op-ed on constitutional questions