The organizers of an effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) have until March 17 to turn in signatures in an attempt to get the recall on the ballot. To trigger a recall election, organizers must turn in 1,495,709 signatures, which is equal to 12% of the total votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election. If supporters turn in enough valid signatures to trigger a recall election, the additional procedural steps dictate a recall election take place within 60 to 80 days of signature verification.
In the most recent reporting period that ended Feb. 5, the California Secretary of State had reviewed 798,310 signatures and deemed 668,202 of those valid. At the time of the report, there were still 296,147 signatures submitted that had not yet been reviewed. According to media reports, recall organizers had turned in more than 1.9 million signatures to the secretary of state’s office as of March 3.
A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. Should voters approve a recall, whichever candidate receives the most votes on the second question would win outright.
Recall supporters say Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In December 2020, a spokesman for Newsom said President Donald Trump’s (R) supporters were behind the recall effort, which he also said would cost the state $100 million and distract from efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine and reopen schools.
Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement.