By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Last September’s unsuccessful recall election to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from office cost state and local governments more than $200 million, state officials announced.
The total cost of the statewide recall election in September 2021 – where a solid majority of voters rejected the recall effort – topped $200 million, according to a letter released by Secretary of State Shirley Weber Thursday.
County costs for the recall election topped $174 million, according to Thursday’s report, while the office of the California Secretary of State’s costs totaled more than $26 million.
State officials had initially allocated more than $243 million to remit payments to county elections offices to cover the cost of the recall at the local level. The actual costs came in under that projected amount, leaving about $69.5 million unspent.
The cost of administering the recall was higher in the state’s more populous counties. The election cost more than $52.9 million to administer in Los Angeles County, according to Thursday’s report.
In total, 42 out of the state’s 58 counties had funds left over from the recall, while 16 are still in need of funding to cover the cost of the special election, the letter said.
Some of the unspent money could be used to offset the costs of the primary election in June and the general election in November, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Thursday’s report comes as lawmakers are considering potential reforms to the recall process in California, including a requirement for the lieutenant governor to take over for the remainder of a governor’s term if a recall effort succeeds.
Ms. Weber voiced support for this proposition during a committee hearing about recall reforms earlier this week, where she also said that concerns over costs should not lead legislators or voters to believe recall elections are too expensive to be necessary.
“Government is never too expensive, democracy is never too expensive if it’s done right,” Ms. Weber said during a hearing on Tuesday.
Since California adopted the recall process in 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a governor. The only successful attempt occurred in 2003, when Gov. Gray Davis was successfully recalled and replaced by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.