Related video: Campaign to recall Gov. Newsom gains steam

Gavin Newsom could face recall vote after petition raises 1.95 million signatures against him

California governor under fire for handling of the pandemic and ignoring public health guidelines

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 08 March 2021 16:29
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California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom could face a recall vote after leaders of the movement working to remove him announced that their petition has garnered 1.95 million signatures.

Election officials at the county and state level still have to certify that at least 1.5 million of the signatures are valid and from voters in California for the recall vote go ahead.

The California Secretary of State's office announced last month that the signatures collected until that point had a validity rate of 83 per cent. If that rate holds for the not yet verified signatures, then the threshold for a recall vote will be crossed, The Sacramento Bee report.

Around 1.6 million of the signatures have been collected by volunteers, said recall proponent Mike Netter during a press conference on Sunday.

He said: “I don’t think you’ve ever seen a volunteer movement like this. It’s literally people from all walks of life, all parties, all religions. We have a diversity across the board collecting and united [on] one thing, and that’s the fact that California needs a new governor.”

Mr Newsom has been criticised for his handling of the pandemic and ignoring public health guidelines as he attended a birthday party in Napa. Other issues include increases in crime and homelessness.

A rise in donations in recent weeks has meant that the campaign to end Mr Newsom's governorship has been able to pay professional signature gatherers rather than just using volunteers.

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Paying signature gatherers is a more common way of qualifying a measure for the ballot in California, The Sacramento Bee writes.

Those who are against the measure say it's a ploy by Republicans to challenge Mr Newsom in a Special Election when turnout is usually lower which tends to boost conservative candidates and causes.

Those supporting the movement argue that it includes more than just Republicans and that a lot of those who voted for Mr Newsom are now disappointed with how he leads the state.

Glenda Roybal told The Sacramento Bee that she had been volunteering for the effort for six months. She said she was "tired of schools not being in session," and that she was "tired of small businesses closing down, restaurants closing down".

She added: “It’s like being on a rollercoaster at Magic Mountain, when you’re at the top and you’re just ready to go down that roller coaster. That’s the feeling you get, knowing that we’re so close to getting rid of someone that has destroyed this beautiful, beautiful state.”

Organisers were focused on getting across the finish line well ahead of the 17 March deadline as an overflow of signatures is required to avoid ending up below the threshold after the verification process. Experts say that 1.8 to 2 million signatures are usually needed to end up on the ballot, according to KABC-TV.

Officials have until 29 April to verify the signatures once they are turned in.

If enough signatures are verified, the lieutenant governor has to set a date for a recall vote between 60 and 80 days from the date of certification, according to The New York Times.

When Mr Newsom was pressed on the possibility of a recall vote, he called it a "distraction".

Speaking to ABC 7 Eyewitness News Thursday, he said: "The Golden State stimulus to 6 million Californians getting $600 stimulus checks, not waiting for the federal government. That's where my energy is. That's where my focus is. All the rest is a distraction from the real work at hand."

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