When Will the Recall Election Take Place? It’s Becoming a Big Point of Contention

With Gavin Newsom’s approval rating high, Dems want the Newsom recall election to be held asap—but elections officials are asking the state to slow down

Despite a sense of urgency from all factions to get the recall election against Governor Gavin Newsom over with ASAP, the people who have to conduct the event say there will be dire consequences if they’re forced to hold it before mid-September, Politico initially reported.

After new legislation was unveiled by Dems in the legislature on June 11 that would allow the recall to be held as early as August 24, the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials said in a letter to Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis last week, “We urge the Lieutenant Governor’s office take our concerns seriously which will allow us to conduct a successful election process. We owe this to our voters.” It’s up to Kounalakis to decide when the election will take place.

The association says that the earliest feasible election date is September 14, which would require mailing out ballots by mid-August. Just two publishing houses furnish the bulk of California ballots and one of them predicted in an email to county elections officials that a late August election would put the recall in “serious jeopardy.”

Although the Department of Finance has already completed an unofficial cost analysis, other obstacles remain before Kounalakis can take the final step of calling an election within 60 to 80 days.

Counties still must provide an updated signature total to the Secretary of State by June 22, it could take up to 12 weeks to get enough paper and envelopes, and election officials won’t even know the true number of candidates running until 59 days before the election.

Additionally, association head Donna Johnston says officials have been operating under the assumption that the election would be held in November and pressure to schedule it earlier—including from Democrats who want ballots cast while Newsom is still riding a wave of post-pandemic popularity—has forced members to hurry in contacting vendors and poll workers “to see what our options are.”

Plus, the new legislation introduced would require the recall to be a “regular election,” which means counties like L.A.—that implemented solutions like consolidated vote centers during the pandemic—would have to rush to switch back to offering a large number of traditional polling places.

The officials also said that a late August election would require overtime, causing costs to exceed the $215 million the state has already committed to the process.

After counties submit the final signature tallies on Tuesday, the Department of Finance will have a review period of up to 30 days. The Newsom administration hasn’t said how much of that time it will need, although that will be a key factor in the timing of the election.

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