The U.S. state of California is holding a recall election to determine if Governor Gavin Newsom should be removed from office and who should replace him if removed. It is unclear to me what happens if Newsom were to resign or die or become incapacitated before the election, resulting in the Lt. Governor assuming the office of Governor. I read the FAQ for the recall election and it does not cover this topic.

Would the recall election proceed and if so would its results have any effect on the office of Governor?

  • As Joe C points out in his answer, a similar question was previously asked on the Law stack. The question is on-topic here as well though :)
    – CDJB
    Aug 27, 2021 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


Quoted from Mike B's answer to a similar question asked on Law Stack Exchange:

Section 11302 of the California Elections Code makes it crystal clear - as soon as an office becomes vacant, the recall election proceeds anyway, unless as of that moment there are not enough signatures to proceed to the vote. So the resignation tactic can only be used to stop a recall election while they are still in the signature-gathering phase - it will not work if they have already gotten enough signatures.

  • Just out of curiosity: if the recall election proved favorable for Newsom, what would happen? Would the lieutenant governor become governor, like what happened in New York?
    – Kman3
    Aug 27, 2021 at 21:00
  • @Kman3 If it is favorable for Newsom, nothing will change as he stays. Am I missing something?
    – r13
    Aug 28, 2021 at 0:19
  • @r13 Oh sorry, I meant to ask that if Newsom resigned/died before the recall, then the people vote not to recall him, then what would occur, because clearly if Newsom has resigned/died he won't continue as governor after the recall.
    – Kman3
    Aug 28, 2021 at 0:24
  • @Kman3 I see. I guess legally the lieutenant governor will take over then. But interesting question, let's see how others say about it.
    – r13
    Aug 28, 2021 at 0:36
  • @Kman3: I agree with r13 - the recall election is a one-step process. Either you retain Newsom, or you elect somebody else to replace him. If you haven't elected somebody else, then the office is still vacant and you fill it in the usual fashion. If you have elected somebody else, then you have necessarily also voted to recall Newsom, notwithstanding the fact that he would no longer be the governor anyway.
    – Kevin
    Aug 28, 2021 at 6:30

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