California Recall Election: How to Vote in Person and Questions on the Ballot

Less than a week remains until the California recall election. The vote will see Californians decide whether to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom or keep him in office for the remainder of his term. A majority vote will be required to remove Newsom from office.

Calls for Newsom's removal gained traction from September 2020 following growing frustration over the governor's actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back in April, Newsom said: "I am not going to take this fight lying down," at a fundraising appeal sent by the governor following the announcement of the valid signatures for the ballot. "There is too much at stake, and I intend to win."

When Is the California Recall Election?

The recall election will take place on September 14, 2021 and it entails two parts. Voters will be asked the following two question in the ballot:

  1. Do they want Newsom removed from office?
  2. Which recall candidate would they pick to replace Newsom?

The Secretary of State (SOS) website says voters are not required to answer both questions.

"Voters can vote on either one or both parts of the recall ballot. A voter can vote 'no' to the question of removing the current elected officer from office and also select a replacement candidate."

Is It Legal to Vote in the Recall?

Yes. The office of the SOS explains: "Recall is the power of the voters to remove elected officials before their terms expire. It has been a fundamental part of our governmental system since 1911 and has been used by voters to express their dissatisfaction with their elected representatives."

"Like any statewide election, eligible Californians will have the opportunity to cast a ballot and make their voice heard."

All California registered voters are eligible to vote in the recall election. See the CAS SOS website to check your voter registration status.

Residents can update their voter registration or confirm whether they are eligible to register to vote at the California Online Voter Registration page of the CAS SOS website

Where Can I Vote?

Those eligible can vote either in person or by mail.

To find the nearest polling place, voters can enter their address on the ca.gov website.

In-person voting locations will offer voter registration and replacement ballots. They will also provide adjustments for those who need them, such as accessible voting machines and language assistance.

All active registered voters will be mailed a vote-by-mail ballot for the recall election. County elections offices began sending out vote-by-mail ballots around 29 days before the election.

Ballots by mail can be returned with prepaid postage as long as it's postmarked by September 14. They can also be submitted to "a secure ballot drop box, to a voting location or your county elections office" by 8:00 p.m. local time on September 14.

Voters can also access "early voting" services (which allows you to pick up and/or vote a vote-by-mail ballot at this location) or "same day voter registration" services (where "voters can conditionally register and vote after the 15-day voter registration deadline at this location."

How Can I Check My Ballot Has Been Received?

Voters 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.

Gavin Newsom at a recall campaign event.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a campaign event with Vice President Kamala Harris on September 8 in San Leandro, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images