California Recall, Election Vote Count, When Will We Know Results?

The California recall election gets underway on Tuesday, September 14, which will see voters decide whether to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom or keep him in office for the rest of his term.

Updates on the preliminary "unofficial election results" will be posted on the website of the California Secretary of State (SOS), who is responsible for overseeing recalls of state officers, including the governor. The results will be unofficial as they need to be certified by the SOS.

Preliminary Recall Election Results

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday. Voters can see the live preliminary results for their county at the SOS website starting from 8 p.m. local time.

Batches of the unofficial count for each of the 58 counties will be posted and updated at the website.

"Election results will change throughout the canvass period as vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots (including conditional voter registration provisional ballots) and other ballots are tallied," the SOS website says.

County election officials will continue reporting results periodically throughout election night until all polling place vote totals have been reported by the different precincts within the counties.

The frequency of the updated election results will depend on the size of each county and the process used by each county elections office to count and report votes. Each of the 58 counties processes ballots differently and the distances poll workers have to travel from polling places to county offices also varies, the SOS website explains.

"Precincts are listed [at the SOS website] as partially reporting since vote-by-mail, provisional, and other ballots will continue to be processed and counted after Election Night," it adds.

Supporters of Gavin Newsom before recall election.
Supporters cheering for Gov. Gavin Newsom at an event in Long Beach, California, on the eve of the recall election. David McNew/Getty Images

When Will We Know the Final Recall Election Results?

California state law requires county officials to send their first batch of results to the SOS no more than two hours after they begin counting votes after polls close.

This first batch of results usually consists of votes submitted before election day, such as ballots from voters overseas and others who opted for mail-in voting.

Depending on the type of ballot, it could take up to 30 days for county officials to verify voter records and determine whether the ballots were cast by eligible voters, the SOS website advises.

County officials have until October 15 to report the final election results of their county to the SOS.

Once the final results have been submitted to the SOS by each county, the SOS will then compile all the results and certify them by October 22.

When the results have been certified, it means all the votes that were to be counted in the election have been tallied. Therefore, the effects of the elections, such as an approval or rejection of candidates and other measures, can take place, explains Ballotpedia, a nonprofit online political encyclopedia of American politics and elections.

Ballotpedia notes it can take anywhere from two weeks to a month for election results to be certified. Even if 100 percent of election precincts are reporting their results, there may still be votes from precincts that have yet to be counted for different reasons, such as absentee ballots being delayed or complications requiring recounts.

Voters casting ballots in California recall election.
People vote at the Lincoln Park Senior Center in Los Angeles, California on September 13, a day ahead of the recall election. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

How Can I Track My Vote?

Residents can check the status of their mail-in ballot by signing up at WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov to receive email, text or voice call notifications about their ballot.

Once they're signed up, voters can receive the following updates about their ballot, as outlined at the SOS website:

  • When the ballot has been delivered.
  • The date that the voter's ballot is expected to be delivered.
  • If the voter's ballot is returned as undeliverable to the county elections official by the USPS (United States Postal Service).
  • When the voter's completed ballot has been received by the county.
  • Whether the voter's completed ballot has been accepted or a reason why the ballot could not be accepted and instructions of steps the voter can take in order to have the ballot accepted.
  • The deadline for the voter to return his or her ballot if the county has not received a voter's completed ballot by specified dates as determined by the county elections official.
A man casting vote in California recall.
A man arrives to cast his vote at the Lincoln Park Senior Center in Los Angeles, California, on September 13, the day before the California recall election. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images