Newsom recall ballot could confuse voters. Here's what you need to know

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Friday, July 23, 2021
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The recall is essentially two elections on the same ballot where voters will be asked two questions: should Newsom be recalled and which of the 46 candidates should replace the incumbent.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The field for the Sept. 14 recall election in California is set and 46 candidates are running to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The recall is essentially two elections on the same ballot where voters will be asked two questions: should Newsom be recalled and which of the 46 candidates should replace the incumbent.

The first question - shall the governor be recalled? - requires a yes or no answer. If you want to keep Newsom in office, you should vote no. But, this question could confuse some voters.

"People who don't like Gavin Newsom may vote no on Newsom thinking that would get him out of office," said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State Los Angeles.

California Recall: List of candidates challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom draws confusion

A recall election often upends the rules of politics.

The field includes 24 Republicans and nine Democrats. Candidates include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder, reality TV show star and Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner, lawmaker Kevin Kiley, businessman John Cox, and Los Angeles billboard icon Angelyne.

"Any elected official always has to worry about a recall," said Sonenshein. "Partly, more people get excited to remove somebody from office than to keep somebody in office."

Although political experts say the 2021 field isn't nearly as strong as the 2003 field that landed Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sacramento, Sonenshein doesn't believe it matters.

"The person who receives the most votes in the replacement election, not a majority, not more than 50%, it could be somebody with 30 or 35% in a large field of candidates, would then become the governor," said Sonenshein.

Recall ballots will be mailed out in less than a month and every registered voter in the state will receive a ballot. If you'd like to vote in person, L.A. County will operate vote centers starting 10 days before Election Day.