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Stories about California

Results of Newsom recall certified; 12.8 million total votes cast

On Oct. 22, 2021, California certified the results of the recall election targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Sept. 14. Of the 12.8 million voters who participated in the election, 61.9% voted to retain Newsom, and 38.1% voted to recall.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, ran in the election. Approximately 7.4 million voters selected a candidate on the second question. The five candidates to receive the most votes were: radio host Larry Elder (R) with 48.4%, YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D) with 9.6%, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) with 8.0%, doctor Brandon Ross (D) with 5.3%, and 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R) with 4.1%. Eight other candidates received at least 1% of the vote.

The recall election presented voters with two questions. The first asked whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second asked who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote was required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. If voters had recalled Newsom, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would have won the election.

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 elected as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran, and the winner received 48.6% of the vote.



San Francisco school board recall elections scheduled for Feb. 15

Recall elections against three of the seven members of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education in California have been scheduled for Feb. 15, 2022. Petitions to recall board members Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga were certified in October 2021.

Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also said they were upset that the board had spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district rather than focusing on opening schools. At a board meeting on April 6, 2021, members unanimously voted to rescind the approval of the renaming process. At the same meeting, they voted to return students to full-time in-person instruction at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

All three board members named in the recall petitions were first elected to the board on Nov. 6, 2018. They received the most votes in an at-large election, defeating 16 other candidates. The other four members of the board were not eligible for recall at the same time as López, Collins, and Moliga as they had not served in their current terms for six months. They were elected or re-elected to the board on Nov. 3, 2020.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had 160 days to collect signatures from 10% of registered voters in the city. The total number of signatures needed was 51,325 per board member, and the deadline to submit them was Sept. 7. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall on Feb. 15, the mayor of San Francisco will appoint replacements.

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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78% fewer local ballot measures on Nov. 2 ballots in California than average since 2009

On Nov. 2, voters in 15 different cities, school districts, and special districts in 10 different California counties will decide 16 local ballot measures.

The average number of local California ballot measures on the November ballot in odd-numbered years since 2009 was 74. In 2019, there were 45, and in 2017 there were 62.

One measure concerns election dates for a school district in Los Angeles County. One measure in Woodside is a citizen initiative related to parking and gathering places in residentially zoned areas. One measure in Santa Cruz would allocate 20% of revenue generated by a marijuana business tax approved by voters in 2014 to youth and early childhood development programs and services. The remaining 13 measures would approve tax increases or renewals.

  • Eight of the November measures are parcel taxes, which are a type of property tax unique to California that is based on units of property or property characteristics rather than assessed value.
  • Two are utility tax measures.
  • One is a sales tax measure.
  • One is a hotel tax measure.
  • One is a real estate transfer tax measure.

None of the measures are bond issues. California law requires voter approval of certain local taxes and bonds.

Nov. 2 is the seventh local ballot measure election date in California so far in 2021. Including the 16 measures on the ballot in November, Ballotpedia has covered 43 local ballot measures in California in 2021. In 2019, there were 78. In 2017, there were 135. The average number of local measures during even-numbered years was 759 over the last three cycles.

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local measures in California and all statewide ballot measures.

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California becomes eighth state to implement universal, automatic mail-in voting

On Sept. 27, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB37 into law, making California the eighth state to provide for universal, automatic mail-in voting in all future elections. Under the law as enacted, local election officials must automatically deliver mail-in ballots to all registered voters. In addition, AB37 modified the mail-in ballot return deadline: ballots are considered timely cast if voted on or before Election Day and, when delivered by mail, received by election officials no later than seven days after Election Day (previously, the receipt deadline for ballots returned by mail was three days after Election Day). The law does not preclude voters from choosing instead to cast their ballots in person.

On Sept. 2, 2021, the California State Senate approved the final version of AB37 by a vote of 30-7. On September 3, 2021, the California State Assembly followed suit, voting 60-17 in favor of the bill.

In response to the bill’s signing, Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) said, “Voters like having options for returning their ballot whether by mail, at a secure drop box, a voting center or at a traditional polling station. And the more people who participate in elections, the stronger our democracy and the more we have assurance that elections reflect the will of the people of California.” Meanwhile, California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said, “It’s no secret that Democrats have and will continue to try to manipulate election regulations for their political advantage. Republicans will hold them accountable through our election integrity operations – including litigation, where appropriate – and by recruiting and supporting candidates who will provide solutions to California’s numerous challenges.”

Seven other states have implemented permanent all-mail voting systems: Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

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Sonoma County District Attorney retains office after voters defeat recall effort

A recall election seeking to remove Jill Ravitch from her position as the district attorney of Sonoma County, Calif., was on the ballot on Sept. 14. A majority of voters (79.9%) cast ballots against the recall, defeating the effort and keeping Ravitch in office.

The candidate filing deadline passed on July 1, but no candidates filed to run in the replacement race. However, two write-in candidates— Omar Figueroa and Joey Castagnola— filed to run afterward.

The recall effort began in October 2020. Recall supporters said Ravitch had ignored issues of inequality, injustice, and fire safety; failed to hold corporations accountable for environmental issues; prevented the release of police body camera recordings; disproportionately incarcerated minorities; and abused her powers to pursue personal vendettas.

In response to the recall effort, Ravitch defended her record and said, “I’m so proud of the work the District Attorney’s Office does, and it’s such an honor to lead a dedicated group of professionals who work hard every day to ensure justice. […] These allegations strike not just at me but the work my office does, and that’s unfortunate.” The Sonoma County Democratic Party published a statement on March 9 saying it was opposed to the recall effort.

Ravitch took office as district attorney in 2011. Prior to the filing of the notice of intent to recall, Ravitch had announced that she would not seek re-election when her term ends in 2022.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit 30,056 signatures in 160 days. The county verified 32,128 signatures, which was sufficient to schedule a recall election.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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California voters retain Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

California voters retained Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in the recall election Tuesday night. With 68% of precincts partially reporting, 63.8% voted to retain Newsom while 36.1% voted to recall Newsom. A majority vote was required to recall Newsom.

Among the replacement candidates, Larry Elder (R) received the largest share of the votes at 47% followed by Kevin Paffrath (D) at 10%. 

The recall election presented voters with two questions. The first asked whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second asked who should succeed Newsom if he was recalled. If Newsome had been recalled, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would have won the election, no majority required.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, ran in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls before the election were YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), businessman and 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer> (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

Recall supporters said 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 a March 2021 response, Newsom called the effort a “Republican recall — backed by the RNC, anti-mask and anti-vax extremists, and pro-Trump forces who want to overturn the last election and have opposed much of what we have done to fight the pandemic.” Newsom was elected governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger> (R) was elected as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.6% of the vote.



Early voting in Newsom recall ends on Sept. 10

Early voting centers opened in 15 counties in California for the recall election targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will close on Sept. 10. The election is on Sept. 14.

The counties holding early voting are participating in the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA), which Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed in 2016. The VCA replaced traditional polling places with vote centers offering additional in-person services. Five counties participated in the VCA in 2018 and all California counties were able to opt in to the VCA beginning in 2020.

According to the secretary of state’s office, these early voting centers offer voter registration, replacement ballots, accessible voting machines, and language assistance. The map below highlights the counties participating in this system. To find early voting and ballot drop locations, click here.

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls so far are YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).



Recall election for Sonoma County District Attorney to be held Sept. 14

A recall election seeking to remove Jill Ravitch from her position as the district attorney of Sonoma County, California, is on the Sept. 14 ballot. The candidate filing deadline passed on July 1, but no candidates filed to run in the replacement race. However, two write-in candidates—Omar Figueroa and Joey Castagnola—filed to run afterward.

The recall effort began in October 2020. Recall supporters said Ravitch had ignored issues of inequality, injustice, and fire safety; failed to hold corporations accountable for environmental issues; prevented the release of police body camera recordings; disproportionately incarcerated minorities; and abused her powers to pursue personal vendettas.

In response to the recall effort, Ravitch defended her record and said, “I’m so proud of the work the District Attorney’s Office does, and it’s such an honor to lead a dedicated group of professionals who work hard every day to ensure justice. […] These allegations strike not just at me but the work my office does, and that’s unfortunate.” The Sonoma County Democratic Party published a statement on March 9 saying it was opposed to the recall effort.

Ravitch took office as district attorney in 2011. Prior to the filing of the notice of intent to recall, Ravitch had announced that she would not seek re-election when her term ends in 2022.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit 30,056 signatures in 160 days. The county verified 32,128 signatures, which was sufficient to schedule a recall election.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Additional reading:



Fifteen California counties to open early voting in Newsom recall on Sept. 4

Fifteen counties in California will open early voting centers in the recall election targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Sept. 4. Early voting will run through Sept. 10. The election is on Sept. 14.

The counties holding early voting are participating in the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA), which Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed in 2016. The VCA replaced traditional polling places with vote centers offering additional in-person services. Five counties participated in the VCA in 2018 and all California counties were able to opt in to the VCA beginning in 2020.

According to the secretary of state’s office, these early voting centers will offer voter registration, replacement ballots, accessible voting machines, and language assistance. The map below highlights the counties participating in this system. To find early voting and ballot drop locations, click here.

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls so far are YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).



Voter registration and write-in candidate deadlines approach in Newsom recall

August 30 is the deadline for California residents to register to vote in order to participate in the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Voters must postmark or deliver their ballot to a county elections office by that date. Newly registered voters may either participate in in-person early voting in specific counties or request a mail ballot.

Additionally, August 31 is the filing deadline for write-in candidates to run in the recall election. While voters may write in any person on the ballot, only write-in votes for candidates who have filed this paperwork will count in the final results. The secretary of state’s office is expected to publish a list of these write-in candidates on September 3.

The recall election will take place on September 14. The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls so far are YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

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 elected as Davis’ replacement.

Additional reading: