California local elections officials: Don’t hold recall before Sept. 14

It takes a lot to run an election.  In the case of the Recall, $215 million—and lots of paper.  Since this is a special election, the paper needs to be ordered—and that takes time to print up elections statements, ballot statements and to create the infamous algorithms.  Of course you need to make sure everybody, dead or alive gets a ballot.

The timing: There is some elasticity in the recall election timeline, and the vote will be earlier than the November target many observers initially predicted. After counties provide an updated signature total by June 22, the two the remaining pieces could finish up fast: the Department of Finance has already prepared a cost analysis (although it is not the formal estimate required for a recall), and the Legislature is planning to waive its subsequent review. The last step would be for Kounalakis to call a vote within 60-80 days.

That means an election could occur by late August, posing a time crunch that is alarming county officials. Sutter County Clerk-Recorder Donna Johnston, who heads the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, said in an interview that her members have had to scramble after initially operating under the assumption of a November vote, starting to contact vendors and poll workers “to see what our options are.”

I would look at September 14, 2021 as the date for the election.

California local elections officials: Don’t hold recall before Sept. 14

By JEREMY B. WHITE, Politico,  6/15/21 

OAKLAND — County elections officials are asking state leaders to wait until at least Sept. 14 to hold a recall contest targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom, citing warnings from major ballot printing firms and various logistics challenges.

Local officials are bracing for the massively complex undertaking of holding a statewide, all-mail special election — a task further complicated by uncertainty around the precise election date.

There are still several steps before Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis can set an official date, but momentum has grown among Democrats for an earlier election as the state reopens and Newsom has relatively strong approval ratings.

The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials warned Monday that supply chain issues would make it impossible to hold a vote before the middle of September.

“We urge the Lieutenant Governor’s office take our concerns seriously which will allow us to conduct a successful election process. We owe this to our voters,” the association wrote in a letter to Kounalakis.

The timing: There is some elasticity in the recall election timeline, and the vote will be earlier than the November target many observers initially predicted. After counties provide an updated signature total by June 22, the two the remaining pieces could finish up fast: the Department of Finance has already prepared a cost analysis (although it is not the formal estimate required for a recall), and the Legislature is planning to waive its subsequent review. The last step would be for Kounalakis to call a vote within 60-80 days.

That means an election could occur by late August, posing a time crunch that is alarming county officials. Sutter County Clerk-Recorder Donna Johnston, who heads the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, said in an interview that her members have had to scramble after initially operating under the assumption of a November vote, starting to contact vendors and poll workers “to see what our options are.”

Their concerns: Under a recently enacted law, elections officials will mail every registered, active voter a ballot. The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials letter warned that it could take up to 12 weeks to secure enough paper or envelopes, but they’re in a holding pattern because they won’t know how many candidates are running until 59 days before the election date.

“Not knowing how to appropriately order materials on a truncated timeline, including when many countywide contracts are up for renewals, will pose a challenge,” the letter warned.

County elections officials have already received a legislative commitment of $215 million to conduct a mass mail election and maintain some physical polling places. But they must still confront the daunting logistics of printing ballots that meet legal design requirements, locating compliant polling places and training and recruiting poll workers. Johnston said that locating polling places in September could be a challenge as venues seek to make up revenue lost during the pandemic.

Officials said Monday that an August election would require paying staff overtime, which would drive costs higher than the $215 million estimate they recently gave the state.

Their ask: Elections officials cited two printing houses, which together supply a majority of California counties, in saying the earliest feasible election date is Sept. 14, which would mean mailing ballots out starting in mid-August. An email from K&H Election Services bears that out, warning that a late August election would put the process in “serious jeopardy.”

“In a nutshell, we feel that the responsible date we would recommend is a September 14th election date with a mail drop date of August 16th, and would actually recommend adding another week if possible,” K&H wrote to county elections officials.

What’s next: Counties have until next Tuesday to report recall petition signature withdrawals to Secretary of State Shirley Weber, though that step is expected to have no material effect on the election. After that, the Department of Finance review period would begin, and the Newsom administration has not said how many of the allotted 30 days the department will need. The length of that period could be pivotal in determining when the recall will take place

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. This election will be a giant black eye for the far left fanatics that have openly infiltrated and compromised our electoral process.
    You can be sure that every dirty trick available will be trotted out for this sea change election. It will be a good test to see if the Republicans have grown a pair. Or not.

  2. Another corrupt election the marxist democrat party can not permit a fair election. Look at there new voter restriction HR 1. complete destruction of a two party system and they will stop any recall.

  3. Interesting that all I have “heard or read” is how much this recall election will cost the state….Our “sweet & honest” Gav & his liberal party have done NOTHING but complain about how much $$$$ it will cost. And then our Gov. states “how much $$$$ our state now has in it’s treasury”. It seems a bit hypocritic if there is not a lot of money (unless it is destined for the illegal’s healthcare, support, & legal expenses at the legal taxpayer’s expense ?), then why not save money and have the recall election at the same time as the regular November designated election? Just one printed ballot, etc? What’s wrong with saving money for our state?

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