Elections officials express worry over possible early recall election

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — As some Democratic state leaders push for an earlier recall election for Gov. Gavin Newsom, some elections officials are speaking out against it.

The California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials are concerned an election that happens earlier than later this fall could leave them scrambling.

Tuesday is the deadline for county elections officials to get their cost estimates in for the likely recall election. With less than a week’s notice, the Department of Finance set that deadline so counties can get reimbursed for the expenses with this year’s state budget. 

Some elections leaders are hoping that is the only reason for the expedited request. 

“The Department of Finance is getting out this request to us a little bit early,” said CACEO President Donna Johnston.  “We’re hoping that it’s for a budgetary standpoint and not for an earlier election standpoint.” 

Johnston said there is still so much to do to prepare for a recall election.

“We were initially planning for something — if the recall were to go through — in November,” she explained. “Having that pushed all the way up to August would be problematic I think at this point.”

She said counties are now working to coordinate vote centers and must make time to make sure translators are available, and that ballots can be printed and sent. 

“We have requirements to get ballots out to voters within certain time frames for military and overseas voters and so forth,” Johnston said. “In order for those 45-day/60-day timelines to be met, we have to have enough time to do what we need to do to get an accurate election put forward.”

Elections officials have said if the recall is required to have the same COVID-19 guidelines in place, it could cost about $400 million, making it one of the most expensive elections in state history.

But as California is set to drop restrictions throughout the state in about two weeks, Johnston said the state has yet to give guidance for election protocols post-June 15. 

“This time that’s the big unknown, and that’s what’s difficult in estimating by the counties because we don’t know if we are going to be following under COVID protocols or not,” Johnston said. “That’s one of the big issues. We do know this will be an all vote-by-mail election. There’s too many unknowns at this point.” 

Johnston said CACEO is reaching out to counties before possibly requesting an extension to Tuesday’s deadline.

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