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California Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a recall election on Sept. 14, which means he could be out of office by October, ending his term about a year early.

His fate lies in the hands of state voters. But what is a recall and how does it work?

California is one of 19 states that allows voters to remove state officials before the end of their term, or recall an elected official.

There doesn’t have to be a specific reason but there needs to be enough ballot signatures to prompt a recall election — 12 percent of voters from the last election that come from at least five different counties.

So, in the case of Newsom’s recall, organizers had to get 1,495,709 signatures.

After five failed attempts to get the Democratic governor removed in a very blue state, Republican organizers led by retired Yolo County Sheriff Orrin Heatlie got 1,719,900 valid signatures by July 1.

So now Newsom needs to get more than 50 percent of the vote to stay in office.

Are you registered?

To vote, the first thing someone should do is check with the Secretary of State’s web portal if they are registered to vote.

If they are not, the deadline to register to vote in order to get a ballot for the recall is Monday, Aug. 30, and it can be done online.

Those who miss the Monday deadline can register in person at a local voting center but will cast a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot holds the same weight as a regular one but will only be counted after a county elections office verifies that the person is eligible to vote.

The Secretary of State’s office has more information about same-day voting.

For those who are already registered to vote, mail-in ballots should have been delivered by Aug. 16.

Completed ballots can be sent in the mail without any postage but must be postmarked by Sept. 14 to be counted.

However, for those who prefer to drop off their ballot, make sure it is returned to a secure drop box, county voting center or local polling place by 8 p.m. on Sept. 14. Every county will have at least one early voting location, as mandated by state law.

There is no shortage of candidates lined up to replace Gavin Newsom as governor should the recall election end with his removal from office. There are 46 names listed on the official ballot — some familiar to voters and many others not. (Photo by Ray Saint Germain/Bay City News)

Two questions to answer

There are two questions on the recall ballot.

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

A “YES” vote is in support of having Newsom removed from office, while a “NO” vote is in support of him staying in office until his term ends Jan. 2, 2023.

Newsom will only be recalled if 50 percent or more of voters vote yes on the recall and will be replaced by the candidate who gets the most votes on the second question.

Question 2: “Candidates to succeed GAVIN NEWSOM as governor if he is recalled.

There are 46 candidates running to replace Newsom and in order to win, they simply need the most votes, even if it is not a majority vote.

The person who wins the most votes, assuming 50-plus percent of people vote yes on Question 1, will replace Newsom, and serve the remainder of his term.

Voters can write in candidates other than the 46 listed, but it will only be counted if the candidate has filed paperwork with elections officials by Tuesday.

The state will release a list of certified write-in candidates by Sept. 3.

People who want to drop off their mail-in ballot can find a local drop box through the Secretary of State’s website or by contacting their local county elections office.

Those who want to hand in their ballot or vote in person can vote at their local county elections office or any temporary vote centers. A complete list of contacts for every county election office can be found online.

Election officials have 30 days to count all the ballots.

If the recall is successful, the secretary of state will certify the election results and the new governor would take the oath of office on the 38th day after the election, or Oct. 22.

How did we get here?

Though Republicans had a slew of accusations against Newsom, what really prompted momentum for the recall was his handling of the pandemic, particularly when he dined maskless with lobbyists at The French Laundry, a high-end restaurant in Yountville, in November 2020 while telling Californians to mask up and stay at home.

Newsom has called the recall a “power grab” by Republicans because they typically cannot win gubernatorial elections in the heavily Democratic state.

Meanwhile, recall supporters blame Newsom’s light-on-crime policies for making the state a dangerous place to live. Though overall crime rates in major California cities decreased from 2019 to 2020, homicides were up, making many residents believe crime has increased.

They also blame him for increased homelessness and encampments in the state. Homelessness has certainly grown while he has been in office — a trend consistent over the last decade at least. It is also worth noting, however, that Newsom signed a $12 billion funding package earlier this year to tackle homelessness in the state.