What You Can Do to Stop the Recall of Governor Newsom

10 mins read

Most importantly:

  • There is an election, starting Monday, August 16.
  • On or around that date, if you are currently registered to vote (check here), you will receive a ballot in your mail.
  • Vote NO on question 1 to stop the recall and keep Gov. Newsom in office. You can skip question 2—just leave the other side blank. Vote NO on question 1 and you’re done.
  • Cast your ballot as soon as possible. Don’t put it off if you can help it.
  • Read on for more info and more ways you can help.

You’ve been hearing for months about a potential recall of Governor Newsom. Or maybe you haven’t! Either way, it’s important to understand what that means and what you can do about it.

In short: There’s an election starting next month, and (if you’re eligible to vote) you can vote in it. And you should.

If we sleep on this election, we risk losing our Democratic governor to any of several dozen Republican challengers, even if they get only a tiny percentage of the vote. We must remember the lesson of 2016, 2018, and 2020: when we vote, and only when we vote, we win. So it’s critical to understand what you need to do and when.

What Is a Recall?

A recall is a special election, not necessarily on the regular election cycle, on whether to remove someone who’s currently in an elected office (such as Governor) from that office.

More specifically, a recall election has two questions:

  • Should the incumbent be recalled from office (fired)?
  • If the incumbent is recalled, who should replace them?

Recall elections must be initiated by a petition drive.

Republican activists started gathering signatures earlier this year to attempt to recall Governor Newsom, pretty much just because he’s a Democrat, and Republicans have decided that Democratic electoral victories aren’t legitimate. Newsom became governor by winning 62% of the vote, a clear majority and more than any previous Democratic Governor of California — but he’s a Democrat, so they want him gone.

Since then, they have gathered enough signatures, Secretary of State Weber has certified that fact, and the lieutenant governor has set the dates for the election: Monday, August 16 to Tuesday, September 14.

Officially, the lieutenant governor — it would be the governor if any other state officer was facing a recall — sets only the date of “Election Day.” But because this will be an all-vote-by-mail election, it makes more sense to think of the election as a month-long period, not a single day. The ballots go out on or around Monday, August 16, so that’s when voting starts; voting ends, of course, on “Election Day,” September 14. After that come the count and the certification of results.

What You Can Do Now: Make a Plan

As we write this, it’s late July. Ballots go out and voting begins in three weeks, on Monday, August 16.

We recommend getting started as soon as possible. Don’t wait — make your voice heard now!

Check your voter registration

First: Check your voter registration at https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/. Make sure that you are still registered and your address is current.

Register to vote

If you’re not registered (e.g., you just became eligible or you’re about to), or your address or other information has changed, then you need to register to vote at https://registertovote.ca.gov/. If you’re 16 or 17 years old right now, you can pre-register, and you’ll automatically become registered the moment you turn 18.

You have until Monday, August 30 to register to vote. If you register before then, you’ll get a ballot in the mail. If you register (or are already registered) now, you’ll get a ballot in the mail on or around August 16 and can send it back any time as long as it’s in by September 14. We recommend that you mail your ballot no later than Tuesday, September 7; if you miss that window, you can drop it off at any voting center no later than Tuesday, September 14.

If you miss the August 30 deadline to register, you can still vote. However, you’ll need to vote in person and ask poll workers about conditional voter registration. If the Department of Elections confirms that you are eligible to vote, your vote will be counted.

Vote – preferably in August!

Most election years, we say “October is voting month.” This year, August is voting month. Don’t wait until September if you can help it!

The City’s Voter Information Pamphlet is already online, and sample ballots will be coming via the voter portal in “late July” (so, hopefully very soon). There are 46 challengers.

We have more detail on voting in this election below.

Become a poll worker

Every county will need poll workers. Check your county’s website for more information.

In the city and county of San Francisco, there will be 588 voting centers. Every single one of them needs to be staffed. The City’s Department of Elections has more information.

Text banking: Not at this time

Unfortunately, there are no good text-banking programs right now. (We had one in San Francisco, but it has ended.) The Newsom campaign has been running text banks, but a lot of their focus has been fundraising. They’ve said they’ll be pivoting to voter education and mobilization soon, and we’ll update this when that happens.

Phone bank with the California Democratic Party

In San Francisco, CADem is leading phone banks at Manny’s at 16th and Valencia, calling infrequent voters. You will be required to show proof that you are fully vaccinated. Bring a charged laptop or tablet and a cell phone. Sign up for an upcoming shift!

Write postcards with Grassroots Democrats HQ

The fine folks at Grassroots Democrats HQ are writing postcards to Democrats in California to get out the vote. If you need postcards, they can provide them. Sign up to postcard with Grassroots Democrats HQ!

Note that postage will be going up Sun, August 29, so you may want to stock up on postcard stamps (and letter stamps for next year) before then.


Indivisible Marin has a helpful run-down of canvassing options around and surrounding the Bay Area on the Indivisible Marin LinkTree.

What’s on the Ballot?

You will be asked to vote on two questions:

  1. Should Gov. Newsom be recalled (fired)?
  2. If Gov. Newsom is recalled, who should replace him?

If more than half of voters vote yes on question #1, Newsom is recalled, and whoever wins more votes than any other challenger becomes the next governor.

This is tricky! It has a bunch of weird ramifications:

  • Gov. Newsom isn’t actually listed as a candidate. The candidates are all challengers. If you want Gavin Newsom to remain Governor of California, vote NO on question 1.
  • More than half the voters must vote no on question 1 to defeat the recall and keep Newsom in the governor’s office. 
  • If fewer than 50% of voters vote no on question 1, the challenger with the most votes in question 2 becomes governor — even if that person only has a tiny percentage of the votes. And because there are so many challengers, it’s possible for one person to be the most popular challenger even with less than 5% of the vote. 

Indivisible SF hasn’t endorsed any of the challengers because we oppose the recall. We recommend that you vote NO on question 1. You can leave question 2 blank if you don’t want to vote for any of the challengers.

Additional resources on the recall from DemCast:

Or just check out our CA Republican Recall section for more!

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Since the January 2017, more than 4,000 San Franciscans have united as Indivisible SF to march in the Women's Marches, protest the Muslim Ban, meet regularly with our Members of Congress, and make thousands of phone calls to their offices to pressure them to do everything in their power to counter the policies and politics of Trumpism. There is much work in progress and many actions to come.

Members of Indivisible SF are defined by our action and find solidarity in our shared opposition to Trump and Trumpism. Each of us explicitly reserves our individual stances on specific issues for other forums as we believe resisting Trump is more important than any single issue. We adhere to a Code of Conduct that welcomes and respects everybody.

Members of Indivisible SF come from all kinds of backgrounds and political persuasions. Some of us are first-time activists and others have been at this for decades. We are citizens and non-citizens. Most importantly, we are all patriots that want the best for our country and are willing to work for it.

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