Should You Really Leave Question Two Blank on the Recall Ballot?

Gavin Newsom’s team has advised voters against picking a possible replacement, but that strategy may be flawed

Ballots for the September 14 recall election include just two questions, and Governor Gavin Newsom’s team hopes voters will ignore one of them.

The first question asks voters to choose “Yes” or “No” on whether Newsom should be recalled. If you think Newsom should remain in office, vote “No.” If you think Gavin Newsom should be removed from office, vote “Yes.”

Question Two asks which of 46 candidates should replace Newsom should more than 50 percent of voters say “Yes” to Question One. The Newsom campaign is urging voters to skip that second one.

“Leave it blank,” said Newsom advisor Nathan Click. “Voting no on the recall is the only way to block the Republican power grab and prevent a Republican takeover of California.”

It’s unclear how, exactly, that strategy helps Newsom, since answering the second question will have no bearing on whether Newsom is ousted, and if enough people vote “Yes” on the first question, one of those 46 candidates will be the next governor—even if as few as 20 percent of voters select them.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that not every Newsom opponent is a Republican. Nine of the contenders are Democrats, ten are “no party preference” candidates, plus a Libertarian, a member of the California National Party, two Green Party members, and Angelyne.

Environmental activist and state Democratic Party delegate Marcia Hanscom says that, while she’ll be voting against recalling Newsom, she doesn’t support this part of his game plan.

“I know a lot of very smart people and people who are very engaged in political action who still don’t seem to understand there are two questions on this recall ballot,” she tells the Los Angeles Times. “And the answers to both of these questions are essential.”

Kim Alexander, president of the non-partisan group, California Voter Foundation, tells the paper that Newsom’s campaign will actually cause problems for their own supporters.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the Democratic Party is not giving voters any guidance on what to do on the second question,” she says. “It’s going to leave a lot of people confused.”

Still, the ballots—which some Los Angeles residents started receiving Monday, while others should expect them within seven days, according to texts and emails sent to registered Angelenos by the L.A. County Registrar of Voters—could themselves leave people confused as to why they’d get to pick a new governor if they just voted to keep the old one.

“I can understand why people would wonder,” Alexander said. “It’s a counterintuitive vote.”

L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan thinks it’s actually not all that baffling, telling ABC 7, “I think when you actually see it on the ballot, it’s not that confusing. It is different than what you normally see in a full scale election, but if you take a look at it, I think the voters will find they can navigate it pretty well.”

One person who hates the idea of skipping Question Two is surprise frontrunner among the 46 hopefuls, Democrat Kevin Paffrath.

“VERY DUMB!” the YouTuber and investment guru tweeted Monday.

“This is like a child saying, ‘if I can’t have candy for lunch, I just won’t eat!’ Giving up the civic right to choose a backup. Really dumb.”

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