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Civics & Democracy

Recall Election Day Is Here. California Voters Head To The Polls ‘Last Minute’

An image of voting booths at a polling place in Los Angeles.
Tuesday is the last day to vote in the California gubernatorial recall election.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images North America)
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Today’s the day: California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s seat is up in a historic recall election.

As of Tuesday, more than 41% of California’s 22 million registered voters had mailed in their ballots.

Voters still have the opportunity to register day-of and vote in-person at vote centers across the state (including in L.A. County and Orange County), which means results could be up in the air for days after the polls close tonight at 8.

LAist sent teams of reporters across Southern California to talk with voters and see how they’re feeling on election day.

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Some Voters Want To Keep Newsom Around

Gloria Vinson is an 81-year-old resident of Village Green, a community near Baldwin Hills. Vinson registered to vote, but says she never received her mail-in ballot. She came to a voting center at St. Bernadette Catholic Church in the Crenshaw district on Tuesday morning after speaking with her sister, who reminded her of the election.

Vinson said she thought the recall election was ridiculous and didn’t like any of the alternatives to Gov. Gavin Newsom. She expressed a particular disdain, however, for the Republican frontrunner.

Jose Fernandez dropped off his mail-in ballot at Salazar Park in Boyle Heights, accompanied by his father.

“We’ve been voting Democrat for a long time. We trust the party and we want to make sure it stays that way here in California,” Fernandez said.

Katherine Cassarubias, 25, said she likes to cast her ballot in person to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the mail. She said she voted against having Gov. Newsom recalled because the government helped her community and her family survive the past 18 months.

“During the pandemic, especially, you know, we had a lot of tough times, especially my family," she said. "I felt like it did really help us out.”

Other Voters Are Eager To See Newsom Go

Renee Kennedy is a business owner with shops in Santa Clarita and Sherman Oaks. She said Newsom hasn't done enough throughout the pandemic to help small business owners like herself.

"I own two retail stores ... and my issue is that Newsom did nothing but try to sink us," Kennedy said.

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Larry Schiel, 71, cast his ballot at the Huntington Beach Central Library this morning. He said he was voting to recall Gov. Newsom because he didn’t see enough progress being made on some of California’s toughest problems, such as homelessness.

“They’ve thrown money at it, but they haven’t really solved it," he said. "You need to solve problems.”

Schiel said he hopes Larry Elder will get elected to replace Newsom.

“And I feel very strongly that he will make a very serious attempt, not just to throw money at something, but to actually find a solution," he said.

Some Voters Aren't Happy With The Recall, But Showed Up To Vote Anyway

Many voters expressed frustration with the mere fact that the recall election was happening in the first place. Rasheeda Washington, who voted at St. Bernadette Catholic Church, said she was especially frustrated with the high cost of the recall for California taxpayers.

“If you think about the amount of money we spent as a state to host this recall election, considering [Newsom] has a year left [in his term] ... I have to ask myself, Is this the best way to use our tax dollars?

Despite this frustration, voters across Southern California were eager to cast their ballots and exercise their civic rights.

Willie Kirby, 90, said he has never missed an election. He encouraged all eligible Californians to get out to the polls and cast their votes.

“I’m 90 and I waited till the last minute!”

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