The explanation I have found so far for the upcoming recall election in CA is that there are two questions:

  1. Should Newsom be recalled?

  2. If so, who should replace him? (with Newsom himself NOT being an option).

(with the results of question 2 not mattering at all (regardless of percentages) if question 1 gets a majority of "No" votes, and the person with the most votes in 2 (even if less than the percentage of "no recall" votes) becoming governor if question 1 gets a majority of "Yes" votes)

Do I understand this correctly? Also, does the "if so" in question 2 imply that I can only answer question 2 (and have my vote count) if my answer to question 1 is "Yes" or can I answer it no matter what?

In other words, if I do NOT want Newsom recalled, do I still get a vote in who replaces him if he is recalled anyway?

Furthermore - if you are allowed to vote for a potential successor and no to the recall, am I correct that due to how the election mechanics for questions 1. and 2. interact that doing so will in no way advantage or disadvantage governor Newsom? (i.e. Ideal strategy is to pick the best answer to 2. with the assumption the recall will happen, since it cannot affect the result of 1. at all and is moot if the recall does NOT happen?)

  • We have 46 candidates running for part II of the recall, by the way, so it's entirely possible for the governor to be recalled with 50.1% of the vote and be replaced by someone who wins 25% of the replacement ballots. Jul 29, 2021 at 14:51
  • @jeffronicus, I believe you mean 2.5% of the vote or thereabouts (the highest voted of 46 might get a smidge more than 100/46 = 2.17%).
    – vonbrand
    Sep 16, 2021 at 16:07
  • @vonbrand Sure, that would make sense. The 25% was just a possibility that was being bandied about at the time, and came close to Elder’s net share of votes cast. Sep 16, 2021 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


Yes - according to the California Secretary of State's website:

What does a recall ballot look like?

The September 14, 2021, California Gubernatorial Recall Election ballot will have two parts.

There will be a recall question presented on the ballot: “Shall GAVIN NEWSOM be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?

Following that recall question, all qualified replacement candidates for the office of governor will be listed. The candidates may list their qualified political party preference, or lack of qualified party preference, as well as their ballot designation (if the candidate chooses to provide that information) describing their principal occupations(s), profession(s), and/or vocation(s). The Certified List of Candidates can be found on our website at: https://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/statewide-elections/2021-recall/certified-list.pdf. Write-in replacement candidates for the office of governor can also run in the California Gubernatorial Recall Election. The Certified List of Write-in Candidates will be available on September 3, 2021.

If a majority of the votes on the recall question are “Yes,” Governor Newsom shall be removed from office and the replacement candidate receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected for the remainder of the governor’s term of office (ending January 2, 2023). If one-half or more of the votes on the recall question are “No,” Governor Newsom shall remain in office.

(Cal. Const., art. II, § 15(c); Elec. Code, §§ 11320, 11322)

Recall ballots have two parts. Must voters vote on both parts of the recall ballot?

No. Voters can vote on either one or both parts of the recall ballot. A voter can vote “no” to the question of removing the current elected officer from office and also select a replacement candidate.

And with regard to your second question - yes, voting in this way will in no way disadvantage Governor Newsom.


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