California will hold its Gubernatorial Recall Election on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Even as voters begin to receive their ballots in the mail, widespread confusion still exists about how we got here and what to expect next.
What prompts a recall election?
All elected officials in California are eligible for recall through the filing of petitions by recall organizers, evaluation of those signatures, and a public vote. The only requirement for a recall to be included on the ballot is the signed support of 12 percent of voters from the last election for the office in question. Those signatories must represent at least five different counties.
How does this impact BIPOC communities?
It is critical to situate this recall effort within the context of what’s happening with voter access nationwide. Across the country, we are witnessing an attack on voters’ rights, with 48 states introducing more restrictive voting rights legislation this year. Unsurprisingly, much of this legislation disproportionately impacts and restricts voting access for communities of color. While there is no pending voter rights legislation in California, the recall process is being leveraged similarly as a strategy by a small constituency to minimize the collective decision of our state’s voters.
Additionally, off-cycle elections usually have lower voter turnout, which raises concerns about uneven representation amongst communities of color. Organizers are working tirelessly to ensure that voters are aware of the election, the new timeline and deadlines, and what is on the ballot. However, activists are again finding themselves navigating an election cycle in a pandemic landscape. These conditions dramatically impact how effectively organizers can conduct the voter outreach needed to ensure that marginalized communities have the access and opportunity to participate not just in this special election but all elections.
How can philanthropy mobilize around this election?
Funders can support general and recall elections in various ways. The California Donor Table has produced a guide for funders to learn the do's and don'ts of elections for foundations, how to support their grantees and power-building, and ongoing communications. You can download CDT's guide below.