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An August Recall May Give Election Officials Headaches

Speaker 1: 00:00 California voters will be deciding later this year, whether to kick governor Gavin Newsome out of office, that much is certain, but when will the recall election take place? That's the subject of partisan debate in Sacramento. Democratic lawmakers want to capitalize on Newsome's relatively good approval ratings. Right now they've unveiled legislation this month, that would fast track the normally lengthy process to prepare for a recall election. And that has some nonpartisan county election officials raising alarms. Joining me to discuss those concerns is Cynthia pass interim registrar of voters for San Diego county. Cynthia. Welcome. Thank you. Tell us about the measures proposed for this recall election by Democrats in the legislature. What are they and how will they make this recall different from previous elections? Speaker 2: 00:50 Well, essentially they're, they're looking at two different models that elections officials can move forward with. So we know it'll be a condensed timeline, um, as with any unplanned election, we know that going into this election cycle, all active registered voters will receive a ballot in the mail. Um, so that's critical just to, to get that word out there to let voters know now is the time to verify their voter registration, make sure their mailing address and their residence addresses out to date so they can check their The two different models is really conducting the election like a regularly scheduled election, or being able to use special election rules, um, to more heavily consolidate. Speaker 1: 01:45 So what would the proposals unveiled by the Democrats mean for San Diego county in particular? How would voting be different? Speaker 2: 01:53 I think depending on the perspective you're coming from as a voter, there'll be pluses and minuses in both models. If you look at a regularly scheduled election model, that would be anywhere from 1500 to 1600 neighborhood polling places with paper rosters and paper ballots voters will be assigned to a location. So there, there are more locations that they must go to their assigned location. Otherwise, if they go, if they vote out a precinct, they'll need to vote provisionally with a more heavily consolidated model under the special election rules, we can have, um, E poll books at all of these locations. So voters will still be assigned a location just to control traffic, but they can go to any of those heavily consolidated precincts and be able to vote regularly, meaning that they wouldn't need to vote provisionally. Speaker 1: 02:56 And which of those two options is the one that Democrats proposing. Speaker 2: 03:00 From what I understand reading the, the proposed trailer bill is more treating it like a regular, uh, election, Speaker 1: 03:10 Regular neighborhood polling places where someone must go there. Okay. And you and several colleagues across the state signed a letter to Lieutenant governor LNE [inaudible], she's the one who will ultimately pick a date for the recall election. And you outlined a list of specific concerns over holding an earlier election. What were some of those concerns? Speaker 2: 03:31 Well, ultimately, um, the calling of the election and the model of the election will be up to stay legislature. So regardless where moving forward, we're preparing for various scenarios, depending on what direction we need to go. Um, so at this time it it'll be up to the state and we'll be prepared to act. Speaker 1: 03:58 One of the concerns seems to be the cost of the recall election. There was an, a preliminary estimate of $215 million for the state that already seems pretty pricey. Do we have any idea how the proposal from Democrats in the legislature would change that cost? Speaker 2: 04:15 I can only speak for San Diego county. So we provided our estimate based on looking at the November election, um, and both scenarios. And we're looking at anywhere from 20 to $23 million to conduct this election in San Diego county. Speaker 1: 04:35 Their concern is about the paper that the ballots are actually printed on. So what is special about the ballot paper and why would an earlier election make it difficult to get all of those ballots printed? And, yeah, Speaker 2: 04:48 So we have the law that has carried forward. That's requiring elections officials to mail all active, registered voters, a ballot in the mail. So that adds to the need of paper across the state. So we, we were speaking with our vendors early on and it is, it's just getting the paper in-house and ready to print. We do use a heavier weight paper for both envelopes and for the ballads. And it it's simply a supply issue of getting enough paper for the number of vendors across the state, working with elections officials and, um, pretty unanimously, they were saying an August election date would be impossible for these vendors to have enough paper to support us in the upcoming election. Speaker 1: 05:45 Variable seems to be, of course, the number of candidates that will appear on the ballot. In the 2003 recall of governor gray Davis, there were 135 candidates. Do we know how many will appear on this recall election and, and how much more paper that would require Speaker 2: 06:02 That that is a very good point. So right now we can't tell our vendor whether our ballot will be one card or two cards, because we simply don't know if we're going to need double the amount of paper, um, or we're going with a OneCard ballot. Speaker 1: 06:17 What are the challenges that your office expects in finding more in-person vote centers to actually, and the staff to keep them open? What's the procedure for that? And how long do you think that would Speaker 2: 06:30 We've started now? Early on, we were anticipating anywhere from October to early December. And so the timeline seems has changed with our volunteers and with, um, polling places that served in the November election. Speaker 1: 06:48 And how soon do we expect that the Lieutenant governor and legislature will finally settle on a date for the recall election Speaker 2: 06:55 That I, I'm not sure by tomorrow, I would anticipate that the secretary of state's office, uh, will move forward with, with finalizing, um, the petition and certifying that Speaker 1: 07:10 Lots of questions still about this recall election. Well, I've been speaking with Cynthia Paz, interim registrar of voters for San Diego county. And Cynthia, thank you for joining us. Thank you.

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