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Civics & Democracy

Live: Newsom Wins As Recall Fails, According To AP — California Election Results 2021

Black and white portrait of Governor Gavin Newsom smiling. Text in a blue box reads "Newsom stays."
Governor Gavin Newsom defeats the California recall and stays in office.
(Illustration by Alborz Kamalizad)
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After petition drives, ads, debates and millions of dollars, we now know whether Gavin Newsom will be the second California governor removed from office by the voters.

The answer: Nope. The recall has failed, according to the Associated Press.

Polls statewide closed at 8 p.m.

And as of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the registrars in L.A. and Orange counties had reported all the vote-by-mail and in-person votes that came in before Election Day and started to tally day-of voting. In L.A. County, voters defeated the recall by 70.8% to 29.1%; in Orange County, voters defeated the recall by 52.6% to 47.4%.

As expected, radio personality Larry Elder led the pack of alternatives to Newsom. Shortly after 10 p.m., he addressed supporters in Orange County and when they booed at the mention of Newsom's name, Elder said, "Let's be gracious in defeat." It was a surprising concession given that in recent days, he intimated he would challenge what he said would be a fraudulent election.

But Elder also said, "We may have lost the battle, but we will win the war," suggesting he will run for governor in the 2022 election.

Note: If our graphic showing election results doesn't appear above this, please reload your browser.

Earlier story below:

If more than 50% of voters say yes on the first question, Newsom will be removed from office. Then whoever has the most votes among the 45 active candidates listed on the second question and seven write-in candidates — no matter how few and even if they don’t win a majority — will become governor in late October for the rest of Newsom’s term.

But it could be a while before we know the outcome — and not because of any fraud.

Due to the pandemic, all active registered voters received a ballot in the mail. To make it easier to vote, the state lets Californians mail in a ballot postmarked as late as Election Day — in this case Sept. 14 — and have it counted so long as it arrives within three days.

And the results could change dramatically — and not because of any conspiracy. County election workers have been counting ballots returned early for weeks. As of Monday, 40% of all mailed ballots had come in, and they are trending heavily in favor of Democrats, who account for more than half of ballots returned. Those results will be reported first.

As in the pandemic election of 2020, more Republicans are expected to vote in person and they’re more likely to support the recall. So the results could shift that way as those ballots are counted.

Of about 8.7 million ballots cast as of this morning, 4.5 million were from registered Democrats, 2.2 million from Republicans and a little less than 2 million from voters registered with no party preference or with minor parties, according to a tracker from Political Data Inc.

While media organizations will call the race as soon as the result is clear, the secretary of state has as many as 38 days after the election to certify the official results.

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