California Recall Election Cost Taxpayers $200 Million

The election was called after more than 1.7 million voters signed a petition to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from office.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

Last year's election of whether to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom cost taxpayers just over $200 million, or about 28% less than state officials had budgeted.

The state Legislature set aside just over $278 million for the Sept. 14 election. Of that, $35 million went to the Secretary of State's office, while the rest — about $243 million — was divided up among the state's 58 counties.

However, it cost the counties $174 million to put on the election, leaving $69.5 million left over, according to a letter published Thursday by the Secretary of State's office. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State's office spent $26.1 million, leaving a balance of $8.8 million. It's possible those costs could increase as the office is still processing expenses.

The election was called after more than 1.7 million voters signed a petition to remove Newsom from office, fueled by anger over his handling of the pandemic and other policies. But on Election Day, nearly 62% of the 12.8 million people who voted chose to keep Newsom, a Democrat, in office.

While the recall came in under budget, it was still a large unexpected expense for taxpayers. Some Democrats have said they want to change the processto make it more difficult for recall elections to be called in the future.

“This was a substantial cost to taxpayers and a significant disruption to governing the state,” Secretary of State Shirley Weber said in a news release. "This price tag confirms that it is necessary to revisit the recall process and to pursue effective reforms.”


This version corrects that nearly 62% of the California voters in last year's gubernatorial recall election voted to keep Newsom in office, not 81%.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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