SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A group of elections officials is warning Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election could cost $400 million.
The cost could be more than four times as much as Newsom and other state officials expected originally, and could be one of the most expensive elections in state history.
“It’s entirely possible if we have to fall under the same COVID restrictions that we did,” said Donna Johnston, the president of the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials, a bipartisan group of county clerks and registrars.
The group noted that the 2020 general election was the most expensive in California’s history, costing $18 per voter.
The majority of the cost was due to the need for personal protective equipment, larger spaces and vote-by-mail ballots.
Johnston said if the same rules apply to the recall election, it will likely carry the same historic price tag.
Whether the state will reimburse counties for the election is still to be determined.
“It could be a very large deficit to many county budgets, and many county boards of supervisors are going to have to make very difficult decisions as to what to fund,” Johnston explained.
Elections officials noted the state did not reimburse counties for the cost of California’s last recall in 2003 of Gov. Gray Davis.
On Tuesday, legislative leaders would not say if the state will pick up the tab for Newsom’s recall.
“Neither the state nor the counties should be stuck footing the bill for such an unnecessary election. While the cost is still being determined, what we do know is the cost of this frivolous special election will be borne by California’s taxpayers,” said Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
“400 million more reasons why the Republican recall is a terrible idea: These Republicans are wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money, funds that could be used to help our small businesses, schools and families recover from the pandemic,” Newsom’s campaign manager, Dan Newman, said in a statement.
Recall supporters say the money is worth it, criticizing the governor’s pandemic-related policies on businesses and schools, as well as the tens of billions of dollars in unemployment benefits paid to fraudsters during his administration.
“If you were running a $150 billion company and your Chief Executive Officer kinda lost $35 billion, what would you do with him? You’d fire him. I’d pay $400 million in a severance package,” explained Anne Dunsmore of Rescue California.
Currently, the recall election is in a 30-business-days period where those who signed the recall petition can have their signatures removed.
Newsom would need about 130,000 signatures removed to stop the recall.
Once that period ends and the recall petitions are finalized, the California Department of Finance will do an analysis on the cost of the recall and will have the official final say on the election’s price tag.