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What to know: California gubernatorial recall election 2021

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Posted at 1:26 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 17:59:44-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Millions of registered voters in San Diego will receive their mail-in ballot this month for September's gubernatorial recall election.

The second major election in less than a year for Californians, just like the 2020 President Election, the recall could have a significant impact on how the state addresses COVID-19, housing, homelessness, education, and more.


California's gubernatorial recall election will be held on Sept. 14, 2021. The first day to vote-by-mail is Aug. 16, 2021, and the last day to register to vote is Aug. 30, 2021.


Mail-in ballots can be mailed back to the Registrar of Voters through the US Postal Service. You can track your ballot by signing up for "Where's My Ballot" at To ensure your vote-by-mail ballot is counted, it must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the Registrar no later than 7 days after Sept. 14.

You can also bring your ballot to the Registrar's office or any voting location to drop it off.

There are three different sets of dates to keep in mind if voting in person. In-person voting at the Registrar's office starting Aug. 16 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; at a voting location or the Registrar from Sept. 11 through Sept. 13 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; or on Election Day, Sept. 14, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If voting in person, you should bring your mail-in ballot and surrender it at the in-person location for a new ballot.


Voters will be asked two questions on their ballot:

  • First: "Shall Gavin Newsom be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?"
    • The options are "yes" or "no"
  • Second: "Candidates to succeed Gavin Newsom as Governor if he is recalled:"
    • Choose one from 47 different candidates
    • Newsom cannot be chosen as a write-in candidate
    • According to the state, a write-in replacement candidate must file a "Statement of Write-In Candidacy" with the county elections official of the candidate’s county of residence by Aug. 31. The certified list of write-in candidates will be available on Sept. 3. (We will post that link here once available.)

Voting "no" means you do not want Gov. Gavin Newsom removed from office. If you vote "no," you can still cast a vote for a candidate.

Voting "yes" means you want Gov. Gavin Newsom removed from office. You're then asked to select your choice for a candidate, who will succeed Newsom if the majority of voters also vote to recall the governor.


If the majority of voters vote to recall Gov. Newsom, the candidate who receives the most votes will be elected as the new governor. A candidate simply needs the most votes out of all the other candidates, not 50% of the votes or more.

If the majority of voters decide against the recall, Gov. Newsom will remain in office.

If a new governor is elected in the September election, they will serve out the remainder of Newsom's term until Jan. 2, 2023. The next California governor will be elected in November 2022, and that candidate will serve a full four-year term.


In California's history, there have been 55 gubernatorial recall attempts, according to the CA Secretary of State Office. Of those, only one has been successful: the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gary Davis and election of former-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This year, the effort to administer the recall election will cost $276 million, the Secretary of State Office added.