In a special election on Tuesday, Sept. 14, California registered voters will decide whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The official voter information guide lists the proponent’s statement of reasons for the recall, in addition to Gov. Newsom’s response. The proponent’s recall arguments list reasons ranging from a general distrust of Gov. Newsom to dislike of his administration’s policy surrounding homelessness and crime.
Gov. Newsom’s November dinner mid-pandemic at French Laundry — a three-star Michelin-rated restaurant in Napa, California — is also mentioned in the recall reasoning.
The final tally of recall signatures totaled 1,719,900, which is over 200,000 more than required for recall in this special election.
As of an Aug. 17 poll by YouGov and CBS News, the recall is close — 52% of likely voters plan on voting “no” on the recall.
History of the recall
Gray Davis, who served as governor of California from 1999 to 2003, is the only California governor to be successfully recalled.
Peter Wright, a Cal Poly lecturer in the political science department, said the recall is a fundamental part of the California constitution.
“It goes back to the progressive era,” Wright said. “It’s sort of part of our constitutional values of searching for reasonableness.”
Wright said that there are always unforeseen consequences that develop with new policies. Much like the initiative, the recall has become a popular tool for special interest groups.
“The recall was intended to prevent bad behavior, but in this case, I think in particular with Gov. Newsom, it’s been manipulated to circumvent simple governing,” Wright said.
How to vote
The ballot contains two parts for voters to fill out: whether or not to recall Gov. Newsom and to select a replacement candidate if he is recalled.
Voters may vote “yes” or “no” on the first portion, then select one candidate on the second. Even if one chooses to vote “no” on the recall, they may still choose a replacement candidate.
Registered voters have received a mail-in ballot, which must be postmarked by Sept. 14 in order to be accepted. If voters choose to drop their ballot off at a secure dropbox, they must do so by 8:00 p.m. on Sept. 14.
The Cal Poly Welcome Center is one such drop-off location. For a list of more San Luis Obispo County secure dropboxes, check the California Secretary of State’s website by entering a city name or postal code.
For in-person voting, San Luis Obispo County residents can find their nearest polling place on the county website’s polling place tracker.
Replacement candidates on the ballot
The recall ballot will offer 46 replacement candidates. It lists each candidate’s name, party preference and submitted candidate statement.
The candidates in the forerunning include conservative radio host Larry Elder, businessman John Cox and San Diego former mayor Kevin Faulconer.
If more than 50% of voters choose “yes” on the first portion, the replacement candidate with the most votes will win the election.
The California Secretary of State will confirm voting results 38 days after election day. If the recall succeeds, the replacement candidate would serve until the end of Newsom’s current term in January 2023.
A Cal Poly student in the running
Ventura college student and incoming Cal Poly transfer John Drake decided to run for office in lieu of what he considered to be other progressive candidates.
Across his social media platforms, Drake has labeled himself as a progressive democrat.
“For 50 years in Sacramento, you’ve had nothing but multimillionaires deciding public policy, so it hasn’t affected them like it’s affected us,” Drake said. “It’s one of the reasons why California is so unlivable to those who don’t have a lot of money.”
Drake said he saw himself as a better representative of the average population of California. He has received support by California voters, especially evident on his Instagram where he reposts supportive messages sent to his account.
Although Drake said he is voting against the recall, he said he still believes Sacramento politics are in need of younger voices.
“I’ve learned so much in this process running for governor, of how hard it is for an average person to literally make a difference in this state,” Drake said. “It’s because it is geared towards the ultra-wealthy and the ultra-elite.”
Drake said he was shocked to find he was expected to pay $25 per word that he wanted to include in his voter information statement. His statement reads:
“John is a recent community college graduate with a degree in Political Science. His continuing educational focus is Government and Policy-Making.”
As a college student himself, Drake encourages young eligible Californians to make use of their right to vote. Drake said he reminds young voters that this electoral process will dictate California policy in the future.
Drake will be attending Cal Poly this fall as a political science major with a concentration in government and policy making.