Recall voting is now
New voting laws not in effect, but voting has been simplified
By Jay Gamel
By the time you are reading this, many, if not most, people who are going to vote in the recall election for Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch will have already done so. The hardest part of the process this year is recognizing the ballot when it shows up in your mailbox, along with political flyers and junk mail. Everyone will get the ballot by mail for this election and most future elections.
Not only is it easy to vote, you also can find out just when your ballot is received and counted by signing up with the Registrar of Voters.
The official recall election day is Sept. 14, and a polling place will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the firehouses in Kenwood and Glen Ellen, and at Oakmont East Recreation Facility, for those who would like to vote in person. In pandemic times, there’s also an outside, 24-7 drop box where you can leave your ballot for collection. And yes, the boxes are secure and surveilled.
Sonoma County is in the middle of adopting a new voting system under the Voter Choice Act, which will allow busy people to vote anywhere, with their proper ballot printed out on the spot and validated — but not yet.
“This will be a polling place election, so voters will not be able to go to any location and vote a regular ballot in this election,” Sonoma County Registrar of Voters Deva Maria Proto told the Kenwood Press. “The Election –
ballot boxes are open now, and we are picking up regularly.”
This reporter signed up for the notification process and can confirm it worked. A text message was sent when the ballot was received and another when it was officially counted. Somewhat comforting in this digital age.
Recalls work differently than regular elections. In this case, the first question asked is “Should Gov. Gavin Newsom be recalled?” If a majority — 50 percent plus one — says no, the rest doesn’t matter.
Next, voters get to pick one of the 46 replacement candidates on the ballot in case the governor is recalled. The next top vote-getter will get the job. Theoretically, if a million votes are cast and Newsom is recalled by one vote (500,001 Yes votes), and the rest are evenly split, the next governor could take the office with 11,000 votes (rounded up). Not to mention write-ins.
Hmm. The DA recall is a bit different. Ravitch will not run for the office next year and no one signed up to replace her if she is recalled. So there is just one choice on the ballot: yes to recall, no to drop it.
If you don’t have your ballot by now, call the registrar at (707) 565-1800 to find out about getting a replacement, or go to the office in person at 415 Fiscal Drive in Santa Rosa. Find out more online at www.sonomacont.ca.gov/CRA/ Registrar-of-Voters.
Voter Choice Act
The county is gathering information and public opinion on implementing the Voter Choice Act, which it adopted last year. Once it submits a final plan for implementing it, Proto expects it will start with next June’s primary elections.
We’ll keep you informed.