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Newsom’s recall cost to California taxpayers?  $ 215 million

Analysis released Thursday predicts that the recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom will cost at least $ 215 million, less than what election officials initially estimated, but a price high enough that local governments in California need government to foot the bill.

The estimate, contained in a note to the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, was calculated by interviewing election officials from each of the state’s 58 counties. It could serve as the basis for one of two tax analyzes required by California law, both of which must be completed before a date can be set for the special election in which voters could oust Newsom from office. .

“The total cost reported by all counties to hold a special statewide recall election is $ 215 million,” wrote the director of the state’s Department of Finance, Keely Martin Bosler, in letter to legislators. “This estimate does not reflect the Secretary of State’s costs associated with a statewide recall election.”

Most of the costs of the election would be incurred at the local level, where the elections are held. State costs are generally much lower. A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Shirley Weber did not immediately respond to a request for comment on other expenses to be expected.

Newsom’s critics submitted more than enough voter signatures this spring to trigger a recall election, setting the stage for the second governorship in California history. Then-Gov. Gray Davis lost a recall in 2003, replaced by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. So far, nearly six dozen Californians have filed statements of intent seeking to run in the recall election – including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, 2018 gubernatorial hopeful John Cox. and retired reality TV star and Olympic decathlete Caitlyn Jenner, all Republicans.

No prominent Democrat has joined the preliminary field. Candidates can only officially join the race after Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis chooses an election date.

A UC Berkeley Institute for Government Studies poll, co-sponsored by The Times and released last month, found that only 36% of registered voters polled would remove Newsom from office.

Although the date of the recall election is somewhat fluctuating, the investigation by state finance officials could expedite one of the two required budget analyzes. Lawmakers significantly revamped the process in 2017, giving voters who signed recall petitions time to withdraw their signatures and ensure special election costs are factored in. The process is expected to culminate in a statewide special election in early fall.

The California county survey unsurprisingly found that most of the costs to run a recall election would come from urban centers across the state – with Los Angeles County estimating spending at $ 49.1 million, the county of San Bernardino putting its costs at $ 32 million and San Diego County reporting an estimate of $ 20 million. Alameda County’s estimate of nearly $ 21 million in recall election costs was the highest of any northern California county.

In April, election officials across the state painted a darker picture, offering a preliminary estimate of $ 400 million. That number, they said, was based on costs incurred in the 2020 election cycle.

Neither of the efforts to calculate the numbers should be considered complete. A large number of candidates vying to replace Newsom, for example, can lead to multi-page ballots and voter guides, adding additional expense. In 2003, for example, there were 135 candidates on the ballot to replace Davis.

It is also uncertain what types of in-person regulations could be passed by the legislature for the recall if COVID-19 conditions were to worsen. The pandemic prompted lawmakers earlier this year to extend last year’s temporary rules requiring election officials to send a ballot in the recall election to all of California’s 21 million voters. .

How lawmakers will react to the cost of the recall election is still unclear. As the legislature continues to negotiate a state budget with Newsom ahead of next week’s constitutional deadline, lawmakers could choose to put a specific number in the spending plan or simply agree to cover all election-related costs. .

Kim Alexander, president of the non-partisan California Voter Foundation, said it was important for state officials to ensure that funding will be sufficient to cover expenses.

“County election departments have been hit hard by staff losses, budget cuts and increased harassment and personal attacks,” she said. “This funding will give them the assurance that they will have the adequate resources to carry out their responsibilities.” “





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