Campaign to recall California's governor has enough signatures. Here's how the process works and what happens next

The campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom has now secured enough valid signatures to get the recall on the ballot. There are still several more steps to go before a recall election is official and voters have their say on the issue.


The campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom has now secured enough valid signatures to get the recall on the ballot, according to the latest filing with the California secretary of state's office. But there are still several more steps to go before a recall election is official and voters have their say on the issue.

Meanwhile, Republicans, including Caitlyn Jenner, have joined the race for California governor.

Here are the rules for recalling a governor in California, important deadlines, how the recall process works and answers to other questions about the effort to recall Newsom.

How does the California recall process work?

The secretary of state's office outlines here all of the rules to launch a recall petition.

How many signatures are needed to recall Gavin Newsom?

The recall needs 1,495,709 valid signatures. That's 12% of the 12,464,235 votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election.

How many valid signatures does the campaign to recall Newsom have?

The recall campaign has 1,626,042 valid signatures, as of April 19. That's above the magic number of 1,495,709 needed to qualify for the ballot.

In all, counties submitted 2,162,774 signatures, of which 2,026,617 were verified, according to the most recent filing. Of the signatures that were verified, 1,626,042 are valid and 400,575 invalid. Overall, 80.23% of signatures that have been verified were deemed valid.

Click here for the cumulative statewide summary of signatures from the secretary of state's office.

When was the deadline to submit signatures?

March 17. Counties have until April 29 to certify the results of their verification of signatures.

Who verifies the signatures? How is this done?

Each of the state's 58 county registrar's offices verifies signatures from petitioners in their respective counties. The group collecting petitions takes the signed forms to each registrar's office. Workers then compare the signed form to the electronic voter record on file.

What happens now that recall campaign organizers have hit the threshold to trigger a recall election?

Californians have 30 business days (April 26 to June 8) if they want to ask local elections officials to remove their names from the recall petition. If there are still enough valid signatures after this process, the recall election moves forward.

Here is what the secretary of state says about the process for getting a name removed from the ballot.

"Pursuant to Elections Code section 11108(b), any voter who has signed the recall petition may provide a written request to their county elections official to have their signature removed from the petition between today, April 26, 2021, and June 8, 2021.

"There is no specific format required; however, the withdrawal must include the following: voter's name, residence address (at time of signing the recall petition), voter's signature"

Where did most people sign petitions?

"For, we did direct mail to many voters and that’s where we got the majority of our petitions to date. Although last week we hired paid signature gatherers who in one week turned in over 50,000 signatures. So for the remainder of the time we’re going to do a mix of direct mail and paid signature gatherers," Del Beccaro told sister station KCRA-TV in February.

According to data compiled by our partners at SF Gate, Amador County submitted the most signatures per registered voter at 16.5 percent. Roughly one in six registered voters submitted a valid petition.

Kevin Riggs, a political analyst at KCRA-TV, said the numbers show the traditional political split in California between conservatives and progressives. "It’s probably no surprise that the red counties in California would have the highest percentage of support for the recall."

When will we officially know if the campaign makes the ballot?

Around mid-May county elections officials must report the total number of signatures withdrawn to the secretary of state. After receiving those reports, the secretary of state determines if enough signatures have been collected and if so, the Department of Finance is notified and has 30 business days to estimate the cost of the recall.

Next, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee will have 30 calendar days to review and comment on those estimates before the lieutenant governor sets the date for the recall election, according to the secretary of state's office.

Read more here. (Refer to numbers 13 – 15)

If the measure gets on a ballot, political insiders say voters should expect an election in October or November.

If Newsom does get recalled, who would replace him?

An election would decide. Candidates file nomination papers with county elections officials. The secretary of state will certify the names of candidates.

The recall ballot would then have two parts. Voters would be able to vote "yes" or "no" on whether to remove the governor from office. The second question would give voters the option to vote for a successor candidate. If a majority of voters said yes to the first question to recall, the votes on the second question would be counted. The candidate who received a plurality of that vote would be the successor.

Could Newsom replace himself?

No. The subject of a recall campaign cannot be a candidate to replace themselves.

What has Newsom said in response to the recall campaign?

He has generally said that he is more focused on the COVID-19 vaccination effort and other policy priorities. "I don’t care that you’re Democrat or Republican — I care that you're healthy and safe and you can live your lives out loud without fear of a pandemic and without fear of having to go back to the fits and starts this pandemic has impacted in terms of communities all across this state. So, that’s my focus" Newsom said on Feb. 10.

Since then Newsom has launched an aggressive campaign that can raise an unlimited amount of money.

"Because it is a ballot measure and it's not candidate-centered it means that he does not have to be governed by any kind of a fundraising limit," Riggs said. "So he can literally raise unlimited amounts of money both within the state and from outside California to help defend him in this recall."

Here is what he tweeted after the campaign cleared a key hurdle to make the ballot:

This content is imported from Twitter. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

What to watch for?

"One of the things that Gavin Newsom really has to watch for and worry about is if another prominent Democrat gets into the race to replace him," Riggs said. "I think there's got to be some thinking in Democratic circles about do we designate somebody to be a replacement as sort of an insurance policy but it’s a real risky thing for any established Democrat to get into the race because they would be perceived as undermining the sitting governor of their own party and would be a party outcast."

The deadline to file as a replacement candidate "is contingent upon the election date included in a recall election proclamation issued by the Lieutenant Governor," according to the secretary of state's office.

Who is behind the recall campaign?

There have been several initiatives to recall the governor. Many of them have merged with, which is currently leading the efforts. According to his online bio, the group's director, Tom Del Beccaro, is a Bay Area attorney who once served as chairman of the California Republican Party and was formerly the vice-chair of the party. He was the Republican Party county chairman of Contra Costa for three terms and served as president of all 58 Republican Party county chairmen in California.

Another prominent organizer, Orrin Heatlie, is a retired county sheriff's sergeant who formed the California Patriot Coalition.

He eventually recruited 58 county coordinators, 27 regional leaders and more than 150 social media managers, The Associated Press reported.

Heatlie once wrote a Facebook post in 2019 that said: "Microchip all illegal immigrants. It works! Just ask Animal control!" Gov. Newsom referred to that post when saying that the “lead proponent” of the recall effort supported microchipping immigrants.

Heatlie has since said the post was hyperbole and he does not support the idea.

| More | Ex-California cop leads GOP dream of Newsom recall, calls effort 'monumental and historic'

Which Republicans would run against Newsom during a recall?

Has California ever recalled a governor?

Yes, once. Gov. Gray Davis was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger.