August 21, 2021

California Recall

If you’re from California—or even if you’re not—you might have heard that a special election is being held on September 14, 2021, in a GOP-led attempt to recall Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. 

If you’re unclear as to why this election is taking place, grab a chair. In 1911, California enacted a law that would allow the state’s voters to pass and repeal laws, as well as recall elected officials, by placing them on the ballot. The idea was to give ordinary Californians more voice and control over their government. This year, enough petition signatures were collected to proceed with a recall election of Gov. Newsom. This year’s recall petition was driven by the state’s conservative contingent, who claimed that the Governor had mishandled the pandemic in addition to preexisting gripes: the ongoing homelessness crisis, high taxes and cost of living, immigration, and rationing of water and energy use. It is important to remember that Gov. Newsom won his 2018 gubernatorial run in a landslide, and that he is up for reelection in 2022. This is a statewide election with nationwide implications - take it from the guys at Pod Save America! If you are a California voter, do not sit this one out! Registration deadline is August 30.

Overseas Americans who are eligible to vote in California elections are also eligible to vote in this immensely important recall. NOTE: Whether you vote “yes” or “no” to having Gov. Newsom recalled, also cast a vote for his potential replacement because if the “yes” votes win, and you left the second question blank, you’ll have forfeited your vote for his successor. 

For further information, have a look at this news release from the CA Secretary of State, California’s recall calendar and our votefromabroad calendar.


Voter Registration Deadlines:

  • If sent by Fax: Must be received by August 30
  • If sent by Mail: Must be postmarked by August 30
  • If submitted Online (must have California State Identification): Must be received by August 30. If you have a California driver's license or state ID, you have the option to submit online at:  

Ballot Request Deadline:

Not required - every registered California voter will get a ballot. If you haven't voted in the last 4 general elections (that is, haven't voted since 2012), then you may not be considered a registered voter anymore and you'll need to register to vote by the Aug 30 deadline.

Ballots Will Be Sent Out:

  • Military & Overseas ballots must be transmitted by July 31 to all registered voters.
  • If you register to vote after July 31, then you should receive your ballot within a few days after your registration form is received.

Haven’t received your ballot yet? Check your spam folder and secondary inboxes. If you still can’t find your ballot, contact our Voter Helpdesk (VHD) so we can help with a FWAB if necessary. Email the VHD at: [email protected] or [email protected].  

Ballot Return Deadline:

  • If sent by Fax: Must be received by Sept 14, at 8pm (California time)
  • If sent by Mail: Must be postmarked by Sept 14 AND received by Sept 21 (7 days)

[Note: This special 7-day extension is for this Recall election only, as per Calif. Election Code sec 1605(d)(1)]

Contents of Ballot:

The ballot itself is tricky as there are 2 different questions and voters should answer both:

  • Recall Newsome - Yes or No
  • In the event Gov. Newsom is recalled, whom do you choose to succeed him as governor?  You must choose from the list of candidates on the ballot and Governor Newsom is not an option.