California recall election: What’s on the ballot and how to vote

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FILE — In the July 26, 2021 file photo Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in Oakland, Calif. Four of the high-profile Republican candidates, who are seeking to replace Newsom in next months recall election, are heading into their first televised debate, to be held Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

California counties on Monday began mailing out ballots to all active, registered voters for the upcoming recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The state’s second gubernatorial recall in history is scheduled for Sept. 14, with polls open that day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to the California Secretary of State’s office.

But like the general election last fall, all registered voters in California will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot — a result of legislation approved by the California Legislature amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Voters may turn in absentee ballots as soon as they receive them, state elections officials say.

What’s on the ballot?

Just two questions are before voters in this election: whether Newsom should be removed from office; and who should replace him if the recall succeeds.

If more than 50% of voters cast “yes” ballots for the recall, Newsom will be removed from office, and whoever wins the most votes in the second question will become governor of California through Jan. 2, 2023, when Newsom’s first term is slated to end. Regardless of the recall results, he’s eligible to run for a second term.

The new governor would take office after recall election results are certified on Oct. 22.

For the first question — “Shall Gavin Newsom be recalled (removed) from the office of governor?” —voters will be asked to choose either “yes” or “no.” A “yes” vote means a voter wants Newsom removed from office. A “no” vote means he should stay in office.

If the majority picks “no,” Newsom remains in the position for the rest of his term.

For the second question, voters may choose one of 46 candidates who qualified (full list here).

Voters can also write in their own choice — however, it will only count if it’s someone from the certified list. Also, since Newsom can’t run as a replacement candidate, write-in votes for him will not count. The deadline for write-in candidates is Aug. 31, and the final list will be released on Sept. 3.

If the majority chooses “yes,” whoever has the most votes on the second question wins the election. Since there are dozens of candidates, that means California’s next governor could be elected with just 25% of the vote or even less.

On the ballot, voters can choose to answer just one or both questions.

State election officials have reminded voters that they can pick a replacement candidate regardless of how they answer the first question.

“The questions are counted independently and your response to one question does not impact the other,” the Secretary of State’s office stated in a tweet.

How to vote

Mail ballots can be turned in prior to Election Day by U.S. mail — with no stamp needed, at a county drop box, or at a polling place/voting center, or at the individual’s county elections office.

For this election, absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before Election Day, and they must be received by elections officials by Sept. 21 to be counted. (California considers absentee ballots and vote-by-mail ballots as the same.)

In Kern County, ballots will be mailed out beginning Monday, Aug. 16. Visit kernvote.com for more information.

Full details on the California recall election can be found here and here.

Early in-person voting begins at select locations on Sept. 4.

For those who don’t know where to cast their ballot in person, information can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.

You can also check voting locations by calling 800-345-8683, or texting Vote to 468683.

In-person voting hours for Election Day are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. across the state.

Voter registration in California

Not sure if you’re registered to vote or want to check on the status of your mail-in ballot? You can do both at voterstatus.sos.ca.gov.

To register to vote — or to update your voter information — go to RegisterToVote.ca.gov. The deadline to do so is 15 days before an election, which in this case is Aug. 30.

However, under state law, same-day registration is also permitted at polling places on Election Day or during early voting. After registering in person, the resident will cast what’s known as a provisional ballot — meaning the vote is subject to registration verification before being counted.

Finally, California allows voters to track their ballots once they’ve been submitted by going to WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov.

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