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California Gubernatorial Recall Election: what does the recall ballot look like?

Californians decide whether to keep Gov. Newsom or remove him from office 14 September. Here’s an idea of the ballot they can expect to see when they vote.

Californians decide whether to keep Gov. Newsom or remove him from office 14 September. Here’s an idea of the ballot they can expect to see when they vote.

Since 2019 there have been six petitions filed to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. One started in the summer of 2020 managed to get the necessary signatures sending voters to the polls on 14 September to decide the fate of Governor Newsom.

Voters can expect a simpler ballot for the gubernatorial recall than a normal one they would encounter in a regular election year. Voters will be asked two questions, but only required to answer one for their vote to count. Here’s what they can expect to see.

Also see:

Sample ballot for California recall election

Elections officials across California sent a sample ballot and an official ballot for the upcoming gubernatorial recall election in August. Voters in each county can expect to see a slightly different ballot than the one presented here from Solano County but the two questions and process will be the same.

Voters that send their completed ballot by mail must have it postmarked by 14 September in order for it to count. For those who aren’t registered to vote, they can use same-day registration in the 14 days leading up to an election. For more information about the California Gubernatorial Recall click here.

The first question decides if the governor stays in office

First, Californian voters will be asked whether they want to recall (remove) Governor Newsom, a “Yes” vote, or to keep him in office, a “No” vote. This is the only question that voters must answer for their ballot to be valid. The Democratic party, Governor Newsom and his supporters have been urging voters to only focus on voting “No”.

If over 50 percent of voter mark “No”, the governor will keep his job. However, on contrary, if over 50 percent mark “Yes” Newsom will be turfed out of office. That is where the second question comes into play.

The second question is optional, but could be consequential

If the vote goes against the sitting governor, the follow-up question on the ballot will decide his successor. Voters will have a long list of choices with 46 candidates vying to take the governorship. Voters can only choose one potential replacement for Governor Newsom. The candidate the gets a plurality of the vote will win, as happened in 2003 when former Governor Gray Davis was recalled.

In a plurality of the vote, the candidate with the most votes wins, even if they don’t get over 50 percent of the votes cast. Governor Davis was replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger who got just shy of 49 percent of the vote running against 134 other candidates, only four got more than one percent of the vote.

The current front runner to replace Governor Newsom is Larry Elder, a conservative radio talk show host and former attorney. He is came to the race late but took the lead over his opponents from the get-go and is now polling at under 30 percent of the vote.


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