Voters reject recall attempt, Gavin Newsom to remain in office

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Esha Gohil

Two volunteers help a voter submit his California Gubernatorial recall ballot at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish polling center in San Jose. On Sept. 14, reigning democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom defeated a GOP-led recall attempt, remaining in office.

by Nicole Tian, Isha Moorjani, and Alysa Suleiman

Gov. Gavin Newsom will remain in office after winning the recall effort today, defeating a Republican-backed attempt to oust him. With over eight million votes reported, in which 63.9% of Californians voted against while 36.1% voted in favor of the recall, Newsom led with a 2-to-1 margin. In Santa Clara County alone, almost 76% also voted against the recall, according to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters. Polls closed at 8 p.m. yesterday.

Newsom’s recall petition began in Feb. 2020 and escalated after the state’s public health mandates during the pandemic. Petitioners listed reasons for the recall, including Newsom’s declaration of California as a vote-by-mail state, increasing rates of homelessness over the past two years and shutdown of small businesses. The governor’s mask-free appearance at an upscale restaurant dinner gathering during a statewide stay-at-home order in Nov. 2020 also sparked controversy. Data from the Public Policy Institute of California shows that, during the pandemic, the majority of Californians have supported Newsom’s methods.

Provided by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters

“Tonight, California voted ‘NO’ on the recall,” Newsom tweeted shortly after news of his victory. “We rejected cynicism and bigotry and chose hope and progress.”

The first Californian gubernatorial recall election took place nearly two decades earlier in 2003. Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced then Democratic governor Gray Davis after an electricity crisis in the early 2000s. 

“A recall is really often driven by those who want change,” said history and AP U.S. Government and Politics teacher Carol Green. “People who are okay and happy with the way things are don’t often go and take the actions, and that is why you inevitably see the success of recalls. It takes a smaller population participating because people generally don’t vote when they’re in a good mood.”

Newsom received support from President Joe Biden and other Democratic politicians such as Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-M.A.). At a rally in Long Beach yesterday, Biden joined Newsom to encourage Californians to turn out for the election.

“Newsom winning by such a large margin just tells us so much about how the electorate is feeling,” said Youth Activism Club Vice President Kris Estrada (11), minutes after Newsom’s victory. “The recall election was a referendum of Newsom’s performance as our governor, and it looks like the California population approves of his performance.”

Alysa Suleiman

Beginning in August, ballots were mailed out to all voters. Those voting by mail were required to have their ballot postmarked by yesterday, and the voter’s county registrar must receive the ballot by Sept. 21 in order to be counted. Voters were asked to vote on recalling the governor, and the second question asked for a replacement candidate in the case of Newsom’s defeat.

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I pre-registered to vote when I got my driver’s license. I just got a ballot in the mail, so [voting] was super easy. While I don’t love Newsom, I think that his policies, especially with COVID, have been good with the state.”

— Tristan Goodwin (12)

“I pre-registered to vote when I got my driver’s license. I just got a ballot in the mail, so [voting] was super easy,” Tristan said. “I’m glad that Newsom’s staying, and while I don’t love Newsom, I think that his policies, especially with COVID, have been good with the state.”

Out of the 46 candidates listed on the ballot, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder led the Republican front. Elder has criticized Newsom’s handling of the pandemic as well as tax and wildfire policies.

“Lots of the issues at stake here directly affect high schoolers,” said Saanvi Arora (12), who has been working with the educational advocacy organization GenUp to educate voters about the election and voting process. The focal point of discourse has been reproductive rights issues, and also just issues of voting. All these issues directly affect high schoolers, because if voting becomes more difficult, it’ll be harder for high schoolers and younger students to actually get engaged politically.”

Newsom plans to run for reelection next year in the June 2022 primary elections, in which all candidates from all parties are placed on one ballot.

Additional reporting by Sydney Ling and Ananya Sriram.