2021 California Gubernatorial Recall Election

Frequently Asked Questions

 

The San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters is committed to protecting each registered voters' right to cast a ballot safely and securely. To help voters understand how the State of California and San Bernardino County are preparing for this election, we offer the following frequently asked questions and answers. Additional questions about voting and the elections process in San Bernardino County can be emailed to Communications@rov.sbcounty.gov.


Recall Election Process

What is a recall election? What makes this election different?

To put a recall of a statewide elected official on the ballot in California, organizers must collect voter signatures equal to 12% of votes cast in the most recent election for that office. The petition to recall Governor Newsom contained more than enough valid signatures to hold a recall election.

On the recall election ballot, voters will be asked only two questions: 

  • Should the governor be recalled from office? 
  • If the governor is recalled, who should take his place?

If more than 50% of voters answer “yes” to the first question, Gov. Newsom will be recalled, and the candidate who receives the most votes from the second question will replace him. It is not required that one of the 46 successor candidates receive more than 50% of the vote to win.

The subject of a recall cannot run as their own replacement.


For the recall election, will anything else appear on the ballot for us to vote on (e.g., local measures or state propositions)?

No. In San Bernardino County, only the two questions regarding the recall of the governor and who should replace him if the recall passes will appear on the gubernatorial recall ballot. Local measures and state propositions will not appear on the ballot.


What happens after the recall election?

If a majority of the voters vote “yes” on the first question, then the governor is recalled from office. The successor candidate who gets the most votes is elected for the unexpired term of office, which expires on January 2, 2023.

If a majority of the voters vote “no” on the first question, then Governor Newsom will remain in office.


If Governor Newsom is recalled, when would a new Governor take office?

County elections officials have 30 days after the election to complete the official canvass. On the 38th day after the election, the Secretary of State will certify the election results. If a majority of voters vote in favor of the recall, a new Governor will take the oath of office and assume the position.

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Voting in the 2021 Recall Election

Who can vote in this election?

Any California registered voter may vote in the gubernatorial recall election.

To check your voter registration status, go to VoterStatus.sos.ca.gov. If you need to update your voter registration or find out if you are eligible to register to vote, you can visit the California Online Voter Registration page at RegisterToVote.ca.gov.

You can register to vote up until August 30, 2021, and have a ballot mailed to you for this election. If you miss this deadline, you may register to vote at the Registrar of Voters office until 8 p.m. on Election Day, an Early Vote site before Election Day, or at a polling place on Election Day and vote a provisional ballot.

 

How do I cast a vote?

You have four ways to cast a voted ballot this election.

  1. Vote-by-Mail
  2. Ballot Drop-off Location
  3. Early Vote Site
  4. Polling Place  

Please be sure to check the back cover of your County Voter Information Guide (mailed to your address on or near August 10, 2021) to find your assigned polling place. Please note that you may have a new location.

In addition to voting by mail or at a ballot drop-off location, the Registrar of Voters office will open for early voting starting on Monday, August 16.

Early voting at additional locations will be available:

  • Tuesday, September 7 through Saturday, September 11, and 
  • Monday, September 13.

Polling places will be open on Election Day, Tuesday, September 14 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters are encouraged to vote before Election Day as polling places may have significant lines on September 14.

If you prefer to vote in person, please note that maintaining a safe environment for voters and poll workers is a high priority for the County. Poll workers will clean high-touch surfaces throughout the day. Polling places will be stocked with face coverings, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Vaccinated poll workers have the option of wearing a face covering, but are not currently required to wear one. Unvaccinated poll workers must wear a face covering.* Face coverings will also be available at these sites for any voter who requests one.

* Public health requirements are subject to change based on guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California Department of Public Health, or San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. For information about the coronavirus crisis including vaccines, testing, and rent relief visit sbcovid19.com.

 

When will mail ballots be sent out?

Pursuant to California Elections Code section 3000.5, every active registered voter in the county will receive a mail ballot that will be delivered to the United States Postal Service beginning August 16.

 

How can I get a replacement ballot if I do not receive a ballot in the mail?

If you do not receive a mail ballot, you can request a replacement ballot by mail before Tuesday, September 7 by calling (800) 881-VOTE (8683) or (909) 387-8300 or emailing MailBallots@sbcountyelections.com. Include your name, residence address, mailing address, and date of birth. After September 7, replacement ballots must be requested in person at the Registrar of Voters, an early vote site, or a polling place. 

Starting Monday, August 16, you may also visit the Registrar of Voters at 777 East Rialto Avenue, San Bernardino to pick up a replacement ballot.

Note: If you request a replacement ballot, the Registrar of Voters will suspend the mail ballot that you did not receive so that someone else cannot use it to vote.

 

I moved since the last time I voted. How do I make sure the ROV has my current address?

To confirm the Registrar of Voters has your current address, you may use the My Elections Gateway tool on the Registrar of Voters website at www.SBCountyElections.com. Or, you can review your registration information on file with the Secretary of State at VoterStatus.sos.ca.gov.

If you need to update your address, you may re-register to vote at RegisterToVote.ca.gov. If you moved from one residence to another and stayed within San Bernardino County, you may simply complete an In-County Change of Address Form. The form may be submitted to the Registrar of Voters by email to VoterRegistrations@SBCountyElections.com, mail, or in person.

 

When do I need to return my completed mail-in ballot?

Your mail-in ballot must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day, September 14, 2021.

 

What does/will the ballot look like?

Recall ballots have two parts.

Part 1:  Voters have the option to vote “yes” or “no” to the question of whether to recall the governor from office.

Part 2:  Voters have an opportunity to select a successor candidate. If more than 50% of voters vote to recall the governor, then the successor candidate with the most votes will be elected.

 

Where/When can we see who the successor candidates are?

An official list of candidates is available online at the County site: https://bit.ly/3y7N0NL.

 

Will successor candidates’ political party preference and occupation be noted on the ballot?

Yes. A successor candidate’s political party preference will be included on the ballot. Additionally, candidates may request that their principal profession, vocation, or occupation be printed on the ballot under their names.


Can a successor candidate print a statement in the County Voter Information Guide?

No, successor candidates are not able to print a statement in the County VIG. Per State statute, the Governor is the only “candidate” allowed to have a statement printed in the Voter Information Guide. The Governor will not have a candidate statement in the County VIG.

 

Do campaign contribution laws apply to recall elections?

Yes, campaign contribution laws apply to recall elections. Committees formed to support or oppose the recall and candidates seeking to replace the elected state officer must comply with campaign finance requirements. The Fair Political Practices Commission is responsible for providing advice about campaign finance issues. It has prepared a fact sheet specific to recall elections that expands on this information. See: www.fppc.ca.gov/media/factsheets.html. For more information, please contact the FPPC or visit www.fppc.ca.gov.

 

Can I be a poll worker?

Yes. You must be at least 18 years of age and a registered voter in the State of California, and read, write and understand English. You must commit to working one (1) day (September 14), attend a mandatory two-hour training session, and have transportation to the polling place. Poll workers in San Bernardino County are paid a stipend for each day worked. To sign up, complete the poll worker application at www.SBCountyElections.com/ElectionWorkers.aspx.

 

How will mail-in ballots be processed?

Your official mail ballot envelope has a barcode that identifies it as yours. When you return your voted ballot to the Registrar of Voters, your mail ballot envelope will be scanned on a mail sorting machine, capturing an image of your signature.

County staff will verify your signature on the mail ballot return envelope compares to the signature on file with your voter registration before the ballot is removed from the envelope and counted with other mail ballots with high-speed, accurate scanners. How you vote remains confidential as there is nothing on the ballot itself that identifies it as yours.

If you do not sign the envelope or the Registrar of Voters staff determines the signatures do not compare, you will be notified by letter at least eight days before the election is certified and be given until two days before certification to resolve the issue. The Registrar of Voters must certify the results of this election no later than October 14, 2021.

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Measures to Protect Voters and Poll Workers

Given COVID-19 concerns, what are you doing to protect poll workers and voters?

Maintaining a safe environment for voters and poll workers is a high priority for the County. Poll workers will clean high-touch surfaces throughout the day. Polling places will be stocked with face coverings, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Vaccinated poll workers have the option of wearing a face covering, but are not currently required to wear one. Unvaccinated poll workers must wear a face covering.* Face coverings will also be available at these sites for any voter who requests one.

* Public health requirements are subject to change based on guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California Department of Public Health, or San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. For information about the coronavirus crisis including vaccines, testing, and rent relief visit sbcovid19.com.

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Keeping Your Ballot Secure so Every Vote Counts

How does the Registrar of Voters prevent voters from casting more than one ballot?

If a voted mail ballot is returned after a voter has already voted at the Registrar of Voters office, an early vote site, or a polling place, the mail sorter recognizes and rejects the second ballot. If a voter attempts to vote in person after returning a voted mail ballot, election workers will check in the voter using an electronic roster (or Poll Pad) that will identify whether the voter has already voted in the election. If the voter states he or she has not voted in this election, the voter may vote a provisional ballot that is placed in an envelope, and County staff will research the voter’s participation in the election before rejecting or accepting the provisional ballot.  

Attempting to vote more than once is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison, according to Elections Code section 18560(b). Voters who attempt to vote more than once in an election will be referred to the San Bernardino County District Attorney for investigation and potential prosecution.

 

What is being done to protect my vote from a cyberattack?

Maintaining cybersecurity and the integrity of elections is always a top priority. We have brought in state and federal agencies to evaluate our systems, and offer the latest best practices in technology and processes to ensure the integrity of this election. As a result, we have implemented stronger cybersecurity measures, and continually evaluate and upgrade our systems.

 

How will you keep ballot boxes secure?

Secure, accessible and locked ballot boxes will be made available for ballot drop-offs beginning no later than Tuesday, August 17, through 8 p.m. on Election Day. Secure, outdoor mail ballot drop boxes are bolted to concrete. Ballots will be picked up on a regular schedule that follows State requirements.

 

Were there any issues with ballot box tampering in San Bernardino County during the last election?

The security of ballots is of the highest priorities for San Bernardino County. There were no reported cases of tampering with ballots cast in mail ballot drop boxes in the county. County outdoor mail ballot drop-off boxes are locked and bolted to concrete to deter theft. Ballot drop-off locations are also placed in areas that have higher public visibility, and ballots are picked-up by official election workers on a regular basis for processing.

 

Is there any concern about illegal drop boxes? What are you doing to prevent them?

The Registrar of Voters received reports of a small number of unofficial ballot drop boxes during the 2020 Presidential General Election. We shared those reports with the Secretary of State for potential enforcement action. The Registrar of Voters administers elections and is not a regulatory of enforcement agency. Across all of our communications to the public and community organizations, we provide clear examples of what the proper mail ballot drop boxes look like and where voters can find them.

 

Were there any circumstances of confirmed fraud or counterfeit ballots in San Bernardino County during the last election?

The Registrar of Voters provided information to the District Attorney about voters who are suspected of attempting to vote twice in the last election. The District Attorney will determine whether there is evidence any of those voters committed voter fraud. The Registrar of Voters administers elections and is not a regulatory of enforcement agency. The District Attorney has not informed ROV that it has completed its investigation.


Why are voters being provided a Sharpie to mark their ballots? Doesn’t it bleed through and void the ballot?

The use of a Sharpie pen to mark a ballot does not void the ballot. The County’s voting system vendor recommends the use of Sharpie pens for marking ballots because it reads the ink better. And the ink dries faster. Plus, ballot scanners only read marks in the oval voting target areas of the ballots. The ovals on one side of a ballot card do NOT align with the ovals on the other side of the card, so – if bleed through occurs – it is not read by the ballot scanner.


What technology will voters use to cast their votes?

At polling places, voters will be able to mark their choices on a paper ballot. Voters who cannot mark a paper ballot without assistance may use an accessible ballot marking device that will print the voter’s ballot after the voter makes their choices. Either way, all votes will be cast on paper ballots.

 

Who verifies and counts mail-in ballots?

Registrar of Voters staff and temporary staff (hired for each election) are responsible for verifying and counting mail ballots. All personnel handling this process must pass background checks and receive training.

 

Under what conditions would a mail ballot be disqualified?

The most common reasons for mail ballots to be rejected are that the voter’s signature did not compare to the voter’s signature on file or the voter didn’t sign the envelope. The Registrar of Voters will notify voters at least eight days before the election is certified and be given until two days before certification to resolve the issue. The Registrar of Voters must certify the results of this election no later than October 14, 2021.

Another common reason for ballots to be rejected is the ballot was received too late. Voters must return their voted ballot by 8 p.m. on September 14 at any polling location, mail ballot drop‑box or the Registrar of Voters office. Ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day – Tuesday, September 14 – and received by Tuesday, September 21.

 

How do I know my votes were counted accurately?

The Registrar of Voters processes are transparent and open for observation, including:

  • Testing of the voting system equipment used to count ballots prior to their use in the election
  • Examination of signatures on the mail ballot return envelopes
  • Removal of the ballots from the envelopes
  • Counting of the ballots on high-speed, accurate ballot scanners
  • Hand counting of at least one percent of the precincts and one percent of the mail ballots to audit the accuracy of the scanners
  • Testing of the voting system equipment used to count ballots after their use in the election

Once you cast your ballot at a polling place or it is removed from your mail ballot return envelope, it cannot be identified as your specific ballot. Your ballot does not contain information to identify it as yours to ensure your vote remains confidential. The Registrar of Voters only tracks that you voted in the election and the method you used to cast your ballot. Neither the Registrar of Voters nor anyone else will know the votes you marked on your ballot for the recall election.

 

When will the election results in California be “certified?”

The Registrar of Voters is required to certify county election results by October 14. The California Secretary of State is required to certify the statewide election results by October 22.

 

Can I track the status of my ballot?

Yes. You can track when your ballot is mailed, received, and will be counted through the Secretary of State’s Where’s My Ballot tracking system. You can sign up to receive notifications about the status of your mail ballot via email, text message, and/or telephone call. Sign up at WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov.

 

I received a notification that the Registrar of Voters was having trouble processing my ballot. What can I do to make sure my ballot is counted?

If you receive this message, you have an opportunity to solve the issue with your mail ballot up until two days before we certify the results of the election. The deadline to certify the results is October 14.

In addition to a notification from Where’s My Ballot, you will receive a letter from the Registrar of Voters that describes the issue and how to solve it. The three solvable mail ballot issues are:

  • Voter did not sign the mail ballot return envelope
  • Signature on the mail ballot return envelope does not compare with the signature in the voter’s registration record
  • First-time voter did not provide sufficient identification information when registering to vote and must provide ID when voting the first time

Voters may return an Unsigned Ballot Statement, Signature Verification Statement, or a copy of their ID by dropping a copy off at the Registrar of Voters office, by mail, by fax, or by emailing a photographed or scanned copy of the statement or ID.

If you misplace your notification letter, you can find the Unsigned Ballot Statement or Signature Verification Statement on the Registrar of Voters website.

 

I received a notification that my ballot cannot be counted. Can I solve the issue?

If you receive this notification, the issue cannot be solved. The reasons the Registrar of Voters will reject a mail ballot, include:

  • You had already voted in this election when we received your mail ballot
  • Your ballot return envelope contained no ballot
  • Your ballot return envelope contained more than one ballot
  • Your ballot return envelope was postmarked after September 14

 

Can I check on the status of my ballot if I did not sign up for Where’s My Ballot?

Yes, you may use one of the following two websites to look up the status of your ballot:

  • My Voter Status on the Secretary of State’s website allows you to look up the status of your ballot. This service provides similar messages to the notifications sent by Where’s My Ballot from “ballot mailed” to “accepted” or “rejected.”
  • My Elections Gateway on the Registrar of Voters’ website allows you to look up the status of your ballot if you voted by mail, but not initially if you voted at a polling place.
    • If you have cast a mail ballot, the status of your ballot will remain “received” until we certify the election results (on or before October 14). After certification, your mail ballot status will update to “counted” or “not counted.”
    • If you voted a polls ballot, you will be able to view your voting history after the election results are certified to see that you voted in this election.

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Educating Voters about Voting Options

What is the County doing to make sure voters are educated about their options?

Getting the word out to all voters about the different voting options is a top priority.

A full public education campaign is being implemented by the County, working in collaboration with cities, the different political parties, local news media, and a variety of non-governmental organizations and nonprofits. Social media and traditional advertising will be used, and Registrar of Voters staff has scheduled multiple virtual webcasts for the public.

To receive a toolkit of voter education materials, contact Communications@SBCountyElections.com.

 

What is the County of San Bernardino doing to ensure voters have language assistance?

Pursuant to State law for this election, the County is providing voter outreach materials on its website in the following languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Tagalog, and Korean.

 

What voting options are available for voters with disabilities?

  • Ballot Marking Devices
    • Available at all polling places and early vote sites
    • Voters may listen to an audio ballot and use an accessible controller to mark their ballot
    • Voters can bring their own headset or use ours
    • The accessible controller is adaptable for sip-and-puff devices
    • Voters using the touch screen to mark their ballot can adjust the print size and the color contrast options, for better visibility
  • Remote Accessible Vote by Mail
    • Voters may use their computer to mark an accessible ballot.  Once marked, voters print their ballot and return it to the Registrar of Voters office using a mail ballot return envelope.
  • Curbside Voting
    • Call the Registrar of Voters at (909) 387-8300 or (800) 881-VOTE (8683). Provide us with your location and we will contact the poll workers to let them know you are waiting “ curbside.”

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