Leaders of the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Sunday they’ve collected 1.95 million signatures a little more than a week before the deadline, a number they believe will be more than enough to trigger a special recall election.
County and state elections officials still need to verify that nearly 1.5 million are valid signatures from registered California voters before the recall can qualify for the ballot. But recall supporters said Sunday that they’re confident they’ve collected enough.
The most recent signature verification numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office found that about 83% of the signatures counted by early February were valid. There’s no guarantee that validity rate will hold for the remaining signatures, but if it does, proponents would reach the threshold needed to trigger a special recall election.
Most of the movement’s signatures – about 1.6 million of them – have been collected by volunteers, recall proponent Mike Netter said during a press conference near the Capitol ahead of a recall rally scheduled that afternoon.
“I don’t think you’ve ever seen a volunteer movement like this,” Netter said. “It’s literally people from all walks of life, all parties, all religions. We have a diversity across the board collecting and united (on) one thing, and that’s the fact that California needs a new governor.”
Until recently, the signature gathering effort was done almost entirely by volunteers and through a mail campaign. In recent weeks, an influx of donations has allowed the effort to begin paying professional signature gatherers, a more traditional method of qualifying a measure for the ballot in California.
Opponents of the recall have argued Newsom does not deserve to be removed from office and have dismissed the effort as a Republican scheme to challenge Newsom in a special election, when lower voter turnout tends to favor more conservative causes and candidates.
But rally attendees and recall organizers argue their movement includes more than just Republicans, and say more and more people who voted for Newsom are becoming disenchanted with his actions as governor.
“Californians are becoming more disgruntled with how their state’s run,” said Randy Economy, a political adviser working for the recall effort.
Glenda Roybal said she traveled all the way from her home in Santa Clarita to Sacramento and has been volunteering in support of the recall effort for six months. She had set up a folding chair on the Capitol mall, and sat facing the Capitol building as she waited for the rally to begin that afternoon.
“I’m here because I am tired of schools not being in session,” she said. “I’m here because I’m tired of small businesses closing down, restaurants closing down.”
She said she was thrilled to hear how many signatures the movement has collected.
“It’s like being on a roller coaster at Magic Mountain, when you’re at the top and you’re just ready to go down that roller coaster. That’s the feeling you get,” she said, ”knowing that we’re so close to getting rid of someone that has destroyed this beautiful, beautiful state.”