Everything you ever wanted to…

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Gray Davis recall

From Daniel Weintraub’s always excellent California Insider newsletter.

Recall Basics
Valid signatures needed: 897,158 (12 percent of those voting in the last gubernatorial election).

Deadline for proponents to file signatures with county election officials: Sept. 2 (160 days from start).

Every 30 days, county elections officers must determine the number of signatures on-hand and report that number to the Secretary of State. The reporting dates are

  • June 23

  • July 23

  • August 22

The monthly county reports are based on signatures counted as of five working days before the reporting date. At first this is a raw count. Once the Secretary of State determines that at least 10 percent of the total number needed have been filed, he notifies the counties, and they begin to verify the signatures. This wonít happen until June 23 at the earliest. Thus, July 23 is the earliest possible date the recall could be certified.

The count of valid signatures is based on the verification of all signatures if fewer than 500 have been submitted, or a 3 percent sample if more than 500 are submitted. The verified rate from each 3 percent sample is then applied to the total collected in each county, and that number is reported to the Secretary of State each month, or more often at the countyís option.

The Secretary of State must maintain a continuous count of the signatures certified to his office. Once the Secretary of State determines that sufficient valid signatures have been filed with his office, he has 10 days to notify county elections officials and the lieutenant governor. The lieutenant governor then sets the date for the election. The election must be held within 60 to 80 days from the date the Secretary of State certified the petitionsóunless the certification occurs within 180 days of the next regularly scheduled election. By my count, Sept. 6 is 180 days before the March 4 primary.

Timing scenarios:
If the proponents have submitted and the counties have verified 110 percent of the needed number (a total of about 987,000) by July 23, Secretary of State Shelley notifies all parties that itís time to call the election. In this case, the election would then be held between 60 and 80 days from that date. That would put the election in late September or October.

If the proponents meet the 110 percent threshold by Aug. 22, Shelley notifies all parties (within 10 days) and the election is then called. That would probably put the election in late October or November. (Note that the clock starts ticking on the election calendar when Shelley certifies the petitions, not when the election is officially called by the lieutenant governor.)

If the proponents use their entire allotted time to gather signatures, county officials verify the remaining signatures and report them to the secretary of state within 30 working days of the deadline. Again, if that produces 110 percent of those needed, the election is called. If itís between 95 percent and 110 percent, the registrars go back and verify every signature. Under this scenario the election would be March 4.

The election
The recall will be a two-part election. The first question will be, should Gov. Gray Davis be recalled from office? The second question will be, if Davis is recalled, who should replace him? Voters can vote on either or both of these questions. If it is a special election, any other measure already qualified for the ballot, such as the Racial Privacy Initiative, will also appear.

If a majority of voters vote to recall Davis, his successor will be the candidate with the most votes in the second part of the election. There are no primaries, and no runoff. Itís winner take all. The winner will serve out Davis’ term and be eligible for one more.”