Burbank Rejects Gubernatorial Recall

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader | Voters line up at the Buena Vista branch of the Burbank Public Library on Tuesday to vote in an election that could have replaced Gov. Gavin Newsom with one of 46 contenders. Ballot results showed that Newsom will continue the remainder of his term.

First published in the Sept. 18, 2021, print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Recall election results showed this week a large majority of California voters said they wanted to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office, a stance that appears to be shared by a significant portion of Burbank.

The outcome came swiftly, propelled in large part by mail ballots cast by recall opponents ahead of Tuesday’s election. Statewide results showed more than 60% of residents voted against the recall, according to the California Secretary of State website.
Though counties will continue to count provisional and mail ballots in the weeks ahead and the Secretary of State has until Oct. 22 to certify the results, the Associated Press declared Newsom the victor less than an hour of polls closing after finding Newsom’s lead was statistically insurmountable.

Ballots were still being counted as of press time, but with roughly 88% of estimated votes in Los Angeles County having been tallied, according to the registrar-recorder/county clerk’s office, more than 70% opposed the recall. The percentage was similar in Burbank, considered a Democratic stronghold, where about 69% of votes counted so far — or roughly 24,000 out of 35,000 cast — have said Newsom should retain his position.

Had the recall been successful, conservative radio host Larry Elder would have likely replaced Newsom as governor. Out of the 46 candidates on the ballot, he garnered roughly 47% of the vote statewide, with Democrat Kevin Paffrath in second with about 10%.
Elder was by far the most popular recall candidate in Burbank, receiving nearly 8,300 of the votes tallied this week. He was followed by Paffrath, who had about 2,400 votes.

In Burbank, a line of voters stretched around the corner of the library’s Buena Vista branch on Tuesday, with poll workers splitting the line into sections to keep people socially distanced. The location was one of three in the city that offered in-person voting, though numerous ballot drop boxes were also available for weeks prior to the election.

The recall election is estimated to cost $276 million, according to the California Secretary of State’s office, though the Los Angeles Times reported that some officials say the figure could rise to about $300 million.

Candidates will have another chance to vie for the California governor’s position in 2023, as Newsom’s term will expire on Jan. 2 that year. If he had been recalled in this election, his replacement would have served only for the remainder of the current term. Newsom would also have remained in office until the results were certified on Oct. 22, meaning he would have still decided the fate of state bills this legislative session.

In California, which has a relatively lower threshold than other states for the number of signatures necessary to trigger a recall election, there have been nearly 180 recall attempts of state elected officials since 1913. Fifty-five of those targeted a governor, according to the Secretary of State’s office, though only two — including the one against Newsom — resulted in an election. California’s other gubernatorial recall election was in 2003, when Gov. Gary Davis was removed in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger.