With Just Days to Go, Gubernatorial Recall Election Questions Linger

Ballots for Tuesday, Sept. 14’s vote on whether or not to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom were mailed out to registered voters weeks ago, and are already being mailed back or delivered to drop boxes.

“People seem to be interested and activated in this election,” Joe Kocurek, of the office of the California  Secretary of State, said at a question-and-answer session hosted by Ethnic Media Services and California Black Media on Sept. 9. “That’s encouraging.”

Although the ballot itself is a relatively simple, two-question affair, questions about the process persist. With that in mind, Ethnic Media Services and California Black Media on Sept. 9 convened a question-and-answer session with Kocurek and Jana Lean, of the Secretary of State’s elections division, to address any remaining confusion about the process.

Joe Kocurek, office of the California Secretary of State (Image from EMS Briefing)

WHAT IS ON THE BALLOT?

Of the two questions on the ballot, the first simply asks, yes or no, if Gov. Newsom should be recalled. If a majority vote “yes,” California will have a new governor before Thanksgiving. If a majority votes “no,” Gov. Newsom will stay in office and the results of the second question, although they’ll still be tabulated, will be “immaterial,” in the words of California Secretary of State Shirley Nash Weber.

CAN I WRITE IN A VOTE FOR GOV. NEWSOM, OR ANYBODY ELSE?

That second question asks voters who they want to replace Newsom if the recall succeeds. There are 46 choices, plus a write-in slot. Gov. Newsom’s name does not appear here. A voter could write in Newsom’s name, but since he is ineligible to replace himself, that write-in vote would not be counted.

In fact, for a write-in vote to count, it would have to be for one of seven candidates who have filled out the required paperwork, stating who they are and what they’re running for, along with the signatures of some registered voters.

DO I HAVE TO VOTE ON BOTH QUESTIONS?

Votes on the two questions will be counted independently of each other. Voters can vote on both questions, or just one, and their votes will still be counted.

WILL THERE BE AN AUDIT OF THE VOTE TOTALS?

California routinely audits elections by hand-counting a 1% sample of ballots to see if they were accurately recorded by vote-counting machines, Lean said.

WHAT IF I DIDN’T GET MY MAIL-IN BALLOT?

If you didn’t get a ballot, you still can. Contact your county elections office or go to a polling station. Your first ballot, which has a specific code attached to it, will be nullified and you will be issued a new one.

WHAT IF I GOT A MAIL-IN BALLOT, BUT LOST IT?

Similarly, if you lost your ballot, it can be replaced.

CAN I STILL REGISTER AND VOTE, EVEN IF I HAVEN’T ALREADY?

If you’re not registered to vote, you can still register and cast a “provisional” ballot, which will be counted once your eligibility to vote has been verified.

WHAT ARE SOME RESOURCES FOR ENSURING I CAN VOTE?

All of these things can be accomplished at your county elections office, a polling place, or a vote center if you’re in one of the 15 California counties that has those.

Those 15 counties are: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Tuolomne.

Those counties’ “voting centers” open 10 days before the election, for voters to cast their ballots, get replacement ballots if needed, or language assistance, without being tied to a particular polling station.

CAN I GET HELP WITH VOTING IN LANGUAGES BESIDES ENGLISH?

County elections offices can also be found by calling (800) 345-VOTE (8683). For those needing assistance in other languages, there are also hotline numbers:

Spanish: (800) 232-VOTA (8682);

Chinese: (800) 339-2857;

Hindi: (888) 345-2692;

Japanese: (800) 339-2865;

Khmer: (888) 345-4917;

Korean: (866) 575-1558;

Tagalog: (800) 339-2957;

Thai: (855) 345-3933;

Vietnamese: (800) 339-8163; and

TTY/TDD: (800) 833-8683.

WHEN CAN I VOTE?

You can also wait until Election Day to vote in person at your local polling place, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you decide to vote by mail, your ballot must be postmarked by Sept. 14. If you’re simply walking a completed mail-in ballot to the polling station on Sept. 14, get there before the official closing time of 8 p.m. But the polls will stay open until everyone who arrived there by 8 p.m. to vote in person has done so.

WHAT IF I MAKE A MISTAKE ON MY BALLOT?

Those so-called “absentee” or “mail-in ballots” that were sent to every registered voter in mid-August came with an envelope, which voters must sign before dropping them off. If you forgot to sign it, or if there’s a problem with the address you’re also supposed to fill in, a county official will contact you to provide an opportunity to correct it.

CAN SOMEONE ELSE VOTE FOR ME?

There is also a place on the ballot envelope where you can authorize someone else to deliver your ballot for you.

HOW CAN I TELL IF MY VOTE HAS BEEN COUNTED?

Once you’ve cast your vote, you can track its progress toward being counted at this Secretary of State Office link: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status.

WHEN WILL WE KNOW THE OUTCOME OF THE ELECTION?

Once the polls are closed on Sept. 14, unofficial results will be made available at ElectionResults.sos.ca.gov.

County elections officials will then have 30 days to complete their canvass of the voting.

WHAT WILL CHANGE ONCE THE VOTES ARE COUNTED?

If the first question gets at least one more vote than 50%, it means Gov. Newsom is rejected and the recall succeeds. If so, whoever got the most votes among the 46 people named in the second question on the ballot, or the seven qualified write-in candidates, would be sworn in on the 38th day after the election, during the third week of October, to serve through the remainder of the term, which ends Jan. 2, 2023.


Mark Hedin is a reporter for Ethnic Media Services. He has previously written for the Oakland Tribune, the Central City Extra, the San Francisco Chronicle, El Mensajero, the San Francisco Examiner, and other papers.

This article was first published with Ethnic Media Services.


 

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