“The first question voters will see on the ballot: Should Governor Newsom be recalled? Voters get to answer yes or no.
The second question: If Newsom is recalled, who should be his replacement? Here voters are presented with 46 candidates (Republicans, Democrats, and others) — but not Newsom. Mail-in voting has already begun, and in-person voting will take place September 14.
Here’s where it gets bizarre. Newsom needs to win a majority of the vote to stay in office. If he fails to get that majority, his replacement can win merely by being the top-vote getter in a crowded field. Two recent polls have shown conservative talk radio host Larry Elder (R) in first place with 23 percent of the vote — a small plurality that could still make him governor if Newsom loses the recall question.”
“in theory, the recall process is all about giving more power to the people so they can boot out politicians they think need to go. Who could be against that? But the devil’s in the details about just who “the people” happen to be, and how that choice is structured.
For one, to get the recall on the ballot, activists needed to meet a relatively low signature threshold: 12 percent of the voters who turned out in the last governor’s election. Even in a deep-blue state like California, 38 percent of voters backed Newsom’s GOP opponent last time around, so with the proper shoe leather and funding, that wasn’t a very hard threshold to meet.
Turnout is another issue. The nature of a recall means it’s an election that happens at an odd time, and oddly-timed elections can have a different electorate, in which those who are more fired up are more likely to turn out. So in practice, what the recall can do is give an impassioned minority of voters a chance at scoring an unexpected victory, due to low turnout from the less-engaged majority.”
“The handling of the replacement candidates is also unusual because, unlike in typical elections, there are no primaries beforehand in which the field is sorted. So this time around there are 24 Republican candidates, 9 Democrats, and 13 others from third parties or with no party preference. With only a plurality necessary to win if Newsom loses the recall question, and no runoff, this poses the possibility that someone with a small slice of the vote would end up governor. This thrills conservatives, since a conservative candidate would have little chance of winning a typical two-candidate California election.
Another feature of the system takes away one possible choice from voters: Newsom is prohibited from appearing as a replacement candidate. That creates the strange asymmetry where Newsom needs a majority on the recall question to stay in office, but his replacement does not need a majority to be elected.”