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Recall Election: Newsom Sues Over Ballot Blunder

Patch logo Patch 6/29/2021 Kat Schuster
Gavin Newsom wearing a suit and tie: In this Tuesday, June 15, 2021, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom talks during a news conference at Universal Studios in Universal City, Calif. © Ringo H.W. Chiu, File | AP Photo In this Tuesday, June 15, 2021, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom talks during a news conference at Universal Studios in Universal City, Calif.

CALIFORNIA — Gov. Gavin Newsom’s name will indeed appear on the ballot for his upcoming recall election, but "Democratic Party" may not accompany his name. He filed a lawsuit Monday against California Secretary of State Shirley Weber to correct what appears to be a big error.

Weber, whom Newsom hand-picked just months ago, is responsible for overseeing the gubernatorial recall election. Without a court order, Weber said she cannot fix the blunder his staff made 16 months ago.

The recall election is now close at hand and could happen as soon as September, thanks to efforts by Democratic leaders to speed up the process. But the dispute between Newsom and Weber added an unexpected iron to the fire.

"The voters would be deprived of the very information the Legislature has deemed important for them to receive, all because the Governor's counsel inadvertently failed to file a form about the Governor's ballot designation at least sixteen months before the recall election has been called and long before it became clear that the recall would even qualify for the ballot," the suit said.

Before 2019, those facing recall were not listed on the ballot. In 2003, former Gov. Gray Davis was recalled, though his name was not listed on the ballot. Newsom later signed new legislation to do away with that rule.

"By providing additional identifying information on the ballot, voters are able to make a more informed choice when deciding to retain or remove an individual from office," a legislative analysis for that bill said.

SEE ALSO: Should Gavin Newsom Be Recalled? Patch Readers Are Split

In February last year, Newsom's lawyers responded to the recall petition but forgot to file his party preference with Weber's office. This month, Weber reportedly rejected a request to correct the mistake.

The suit argued that it's not too late for Weber to amend the filing since Weber has not yet certified the recall election. After the recall is certified, the lieutenant governor must set an official election date. Weber can still accept changes to the recall ballot at least 59 days before the election takes place, the suit argued.

Weber's office last week announced that enough signatures were collected and verified to trigger the election officially.

A total of 43 signatures were withdrawn statewide from petitions to recall Newsom; the remaining 1,719,900 verified signatures met the threshold to initiate a recall election, according to elections officials.

Originally, the recall election was forecast for the fall, but Democratic leaders of the state Legislature proposed $215 million to be included in the state budget to cover costs related to the recall election.

The boost in funds, legislators said, would allow for an earlier recall election date, which the governor's supporters believed could help keep him in office.

The proposal to cover the costs came just hours after the California Department of Finance unofficially estimated that a gubernatorial recall election could cost California's 58 counties $215 million.

Over the last several months, the governor has promoted his own campaign, "Stop the Republican Recall," which painted the effort as one backed by supporters of former President Donald Trump, QAnon supporters, anti-vaccine activists and "extremist Republicans."

"I won't be distracted by this partisan, Republican recall — but I will fight it," Newsom said in mid-March. "There is too much at stake."

READ MORE ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA RECALL ELECTION:

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