California’s governor recall election cost taxpayers $200 million

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, more than 81% 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 process to 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.”

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