Governor Gavin Newsom won the California Recall election. No one should be surprised by this outcome in a state where the vast majority of registered voters are Democrats.

On September 14, 2021, the California Secretary of State’s website provided partial reporting of the outcome of the California Recall election. As of the night of September 14, 2021, the YES votes totaled 3,298,988 (36.1%). The NO votes totaled 5,841,689 (61.9)%

The official results of the recall election were released on October 22, 2021, after being certified by Dr. Shirley N. Weber, California’s Secretary of State. On October 22, 2021, the YES votes totaled 4,894,473 (38%) and the NO votes totaled 7,944,092 (61.9%). It should be noted that these totals included all of the ballots that were cast in the recall election. The California Secretary of State’s website clearly shows that every ballot, from every county, had been counted and that there were zero left to count.

There were two questions on the ballot.

Question 1: “Shall GAVIN NEWSOM be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?”

A “YES” vote meant the voter wanted Governor Newsom removed. A “NO” vote meant the voter wanted Governor Newsom to remain as Governor of California.

Question 2: “Candidate to succeed GAVIN NEWSOM as Governor if he is recalled:”

The California Secretary of State’s website shows not only the official total vote count, but also the long list of “Recall Election Gubernatorial Replacement Candidates”. There were a total of 53 candidates who wanted to be chosen by voters to replace Governor Gavin Newsom. The majority of those candidates were Republicans. There were also some Democrats, a few Libertarians and Green Party candidates, and several “No Party Preference”.

SFGate reported (on September 15, 2021) that Governor Gavin Newsom “implored Democratic voters to leave the second question of the recall ballot blank.”

…This strategy was deployed in order to paint the recall as a choice between Newsom and replacement frontrunner Larry Elder, a firebrand conservative radio host whose decision to enter the race late has since been blamed for Newsom’s landslide victory.


Voters who voted “YES” and wanted Governor Gavin Newsom to be removed from office could select ONE of the candidates on the list as his replacement. That said, there was a threshold to be met before Governor Newsom could be replaced.

Some voters decided to fill in the second question with their choice of replacement candidate. According to the Statement of Vote Summary Pages on the California Secretary of State’s website, the top five were:

Larry A. Elder (Republican) – 3,563,867 votes (48.4%)

Kevin Paffrath (Democrat) – 706,779 votes (9.6%)

Kevin L. Faulconer (Republican) 590,346 votes (8.0%)

Brandon M. Ross (Republican) 392,029 votes (4.1%)

John Cox (Republican) 305,095 votes (4.1%)

CalMatters reported information about the California recall election that might be unique to California:

…If more than 50% of voters had said yes on the first question, Newsom would have been removed from office. Then whoever had the most votes among the 45 active candidates listed on the second question and seven write-in candidates – no matter how few and even if they didn’t win a majority – would have become governor in late October for the rest of Newsom’s term.


Fortunately, the results showed that 61.9% of voters voted “NO” (because they wanted to keep Governor Gavin Newsom). That left the “YES” side (that wanted to remove Governor Gavin Newsom) with only 36.1%. That number is much lower than the 50% that it would have taken to remove Governor Newsom.

The Modesto Bee reported about the impact of mail-in ballots:

…Mail-in ballots also could have contributed to the higher turnout. Over the last decade, the number of California voters casting ballots by mail has grown substantially.

In 2018, 65.3% of votes were cast by mail. California in 2020 sent mail ballots to all voters because of the coronavirus pandemic. The percentage of mail-in ballots cast rose to 86.72% in the general election.

Counties sent all California registered voters mail-in ballots for the recall, too. Weber’s office on Friday reported 91.01% of voters used mail ballots in that election.

Under a new law signed by Newsom last month, vote by mail will now be automatic for all voters in all elections.

The Modesto Bee

Mail-in ballots are wonderful because they make it easier for people who are disabled to vote. A person with a disability might not be capable of standing in a long line while waiting to cast their vote. People who low-vision might not be able to see the small print on the ballot that is offered at a polling place. Mail-in ballots are also great for people who work more than one job, and do not have the time to cast their vote in person because doing so could make them late for their second (or third) job.

How much did the Republican-led California Recall cost?

The best source I could find was the California Department of Finance. On July 1, 2021, the Department posted information about the cost of this recall election:

…On June 10, 2021, Finance notified the Joint Legislative Budget Committee that the estimated costs reported by counties to administer a statewide special recall election were $215.2 million. Finance gathered these estimated costs to support legislative consideration for inclusion in the budget, as requested by a coalition of county organizations and the Legislature.

Subsequently, Chapter 34, Statutes of 2021 (SB 152) made changes to how the 2021 gubernatorial recall election will be held, including requiring it to be held as a regular election. As a result, Finance requested updated cost estimates from counties to administer the recall election under the provisions of SB 152. The updated estimated costs provided by counties are $243.6 million, an increase of $28.4 million from the previous estimate submitted to the Legislature. In addition, the Secretary of State estimates costs of $32.4 million to administer the recall election…

…Therefore, the total estimated state and county costs to administer the recall election under this scenario is $276 million. Of this amount, a total of $250.2 million has been appropriated in 2021-22 for this purpose – $215.2 million in section 16.00 of the Budget Act of 2021, Chapter 21, Statutes of 2021 (AB 128), and $35 million in SB 152. The Legislature determined the appropriation in AB 128 to be reasonably necessary to conduct the recall election and designated those funds for that purpose…

California Department of Finance

Personally, I think the money that the State of California was forced to spend on the recall election was a waste. That money could have been used for so many more important things like: raising the minimum wage, helping people pay off student loans, affordable childcare for workers, funding to enable the state to switch to clean energy, building more affordable housing (including housing for unhoused people), adding additional resources to fight fires and to assist people who lost their homes due to catastrophes, and statewide single payer health care.

Instead, that money goes towards a bogus election, started by disgruntled Republican voters, who wanted to steal an election. Gavin Newsom won his gubernatorial election against Republican John Cox fair and square. These proponents of the recall received extra time than typical to obtain the necessary amount of signatures (due to COVID-19 and a willing judge) and still failed.

It seems incredibly unfair that the small minority of registered Republican voters can force the State of California to spend money on an recall election that the majority of registered Democratic voters did not want. If the Republicans want to win the next gubernatorial election, they are going to have to find a candidate that Democrats will be interested in voting for. Somehow, I don’t think they will find a Republican candidate that fits that description.

Official Results of California Recall is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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