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Recall Updates: What if Newsom Resigned Before the Election?

Recall Updates: What if Newsom Resigned Before the Election?

California Recall

Sept. 11, 2021, 5:39 p.m. ET

Sept. 11, 2021, 5:39 p.m. ET

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis of California would take over if Gov. Gavin Newsom resigned.
Credit…Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Kathy Schwartz, a retired health care analyst living in Los Angeles, had been following the news about the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom with increasing concern.

Ms. Schwartz, 65, initially believed that the recall was a waste of time and money. But she got frightened late last month as Larry Elder, the conservative radio host, vaulted into the top spot to replace the governor, propelled by promises to immediately remove all pandemic health mandates.

Then a question occurred to her: Why couldn’t Mr. Newsom resign and allow Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a fellow Democrat, to take over, rendering the recall moot?

“Larry Elder is scary, the guy with the bear and the guy in San Diego are scary,” she said, referring to the Republican candidates John Cox and Kevin Faulconer. “So I wondered, ‘Why don’t you just resign to be safe?’”

Ms. Schwartz, who recently emailed The New York Times her query, unwittingly stumbled across a kind of thought experiment that has been percolating on social media, and among some Democrats who fear even a brief period of Republican rule in the nation’s most populous state. Earlier in the year, Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, floated the idea to Politico as what the publication called a kind of “nuclear option.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Newsom declined to comment on whether he would step down, and Ms. Kounalakis said she was not considering the possibility.

“That is a highly unlikely scenario, so right now my main focus is on keeping Gavin Newsom in office, where he has been doing so much good for Californians,” she said.

There has been some ambiguity about what would happen if for Ms. Kounalakis were forced to take over in the next couple of days.

The California Secretary of State’s office, which runs elections, said in a statement that “we can’t at this point confirm that it would render the recall moot,” adding that “it would require more extensive research in the matter.”

The relevant section of the state’s elections code says, “If a vacancy occurs in an office after a recall petition is filed against the vacating officer, the recall election shall nevertheless proceed.”

But just because state law requires the recall election to go forward would not necessarily mean its results matter, said Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and an expert in constitutional law.

In the scenario where the governor resigns just ahead of a recall election, “there’s no one to recall,” he said. In his reading, it would take another recall petition to trigger another recall election targeting the lieutenant governor once she took over.

Mr. Chemerinsky said there was even less indication in the State Constitution that the recall election’s results would hold if Mr. Newsom was no longer governor.

One thing Mr. Chemerinsky is certain about, though, is that if Mr. Newsom were to be replaced by Ms. Kounalakis in the coming days, there would be a lot of litigation.

“It would be a mess,” he said.

Ms. Schwartz said she did not take any chances, quickly mailing in her ballot with a “no” vote on the first question, about whether the governor should be removed. On the second question — who should replace Mr. Newsom if he is recalled? — she selected Angelyne, the pink-Corvette-driving Hollywood enigma.

If Mr. Elder wins, she said, she and her husband might move abroad.

Mail-in ballots for the recall election getting processed in Pomona on Thursday.
Credit…Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

More than a third of California’s active registered voters had cast their ballots in the recall election by Saturday, several days before polls close.

That hints not only at a fundamental shift in how Californians are casting their ballots, but when they are doing so, said Paul Mitchell, a vice president of Political Data Inc., a Sacramento-based supplier of election data.

“There will come a day where the highest voter turnout is not on Election Day,” he said.

That may not be this election, for which all of the state’s roughly 22 million active registered voters were mailed ballots. But trends suggest that the proportion of ballots cast on Tuesday, the last day of roughly a month of voting, will be much lower than in the past, Mr. Mitchell said.

“If only 15 to 20 percent of people vote on the last Monday to Tuesday, that’s pretty crazy,” he said.

Throughout the campaign, experts have said that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s effort to hang on to his job leading the nation’s most-populous state would hinge on whether California’s enormous Democratic base would show up in significant enough numbers to counteract enthusiasm among Republicans. Polling has consistently shown that approval of Mr. Newsom’s performance has split largely along party lines.

As of Wednesday, the Political Data Inc. election tracker showed that they have so far: Of those who received ballots, 34 percent of registered Democrats and 30 percent of registered Republicans have returned them, meaning that more than twice as many Democratic ballots have been cast.

That, of course, does not include ballots that are in the mail, or those of voters who are waiting to hit the polls in person in the next several days.

But Mr. Mitchell noted that the early votes have also come largely from older voters. Nearly half of voters 65 and older have returned their ballots, compared with 23 percent of voters 35 to 49 and 16 percent of voters 18 to 34.

Historically, he said, early voting and voting by mail were dominated by older, whiter Republicans. But that flipped in 2020 as misinformation about ballot fraud took hold, and the data in this election suggests that the trend of voting early or by mail among older Democrats has continued.

Despite the number of early votes, both campaigns have hewed to a traditional schedule by ramping up in the final week of the election.

“We still want that last closing message,” Mr. Mitchell said. “It’s this romantic idea of a campaign arc that doesn’t exist anymore.”

In this election, he said, the last-ditch efforts could pay off by turning out young people and Latinos whose votes may still be up for grabs.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California promoting a vaccine incentive campaign at Universal Studios Hollywood in June.
Credit…Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Just a few months ago, when it seemed as though the worst of the coronavirus pandemic was behind us, Republican supporters of the recall felt vindicated and optimistic. The fact that so many people were out and about would only embolden the argument that Gov. Gavin Newsom had been too tough in his lockdown orders last year.

Then came Delta.

For a moment, Mr. Newsom’s political future looked bleak: He had only recently proclaimed the start of the “California comeback,” and counties were instead bringing back mask mandates.

Amid a resurgence of cases across the country, Covid deaths spiked in Republican-led states, where restrictions and vaccine mandates were rare. But California, where Mr. Newsom was quick to mandate masks in schools and to require health workers to be vaccinated, saw less dramatic increases.

Now, Mr. Newsom and his supporters have turned the recall into a kind of referendum on pandemic management tactics. In other words, the Delta wave effectively galvanized his voters.

In the closing days of the campaign, Mr. Newsom and his supporters have been more than willing to frame the recall election as a choice between a governor who “follows the science” and favors tight restrictions, and one who would loosen protocols that meant to prevent transmission and deaths.

“There is no more consequential decision to the health and safety of the people of the state of California than voting no on this Republican-backed recall,” Mr. Newsom said during a vaccine event in Oakland this month.

His campaign previously released an advertisement portraying the election as “a matter of life and death.”

The message appears to be working. Several polls suggest that Mr. Newsom will cruise to victory on Tuesday — and his handling of the pandemic has the support of a broad majority of voters.

A poll released on Friday by The Los Angeles Times and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, found that most likely voters disagreed with the idea that the governor overstepped his authority in his response to the pandemic. The same poll showed that more than 60 percent of likely voters opposed the recall.

Another poll, from the Public Policy Institute of California, found that seven in 10 likely voters say the outcome of the recall election is very important to them. Mark Baldassare, the president of the institute, tied that intense interest to the focus on the pandemic.

“In our most recent poll, Covid is the No. 1 issue for Californians,” Mr. Baldassare said. “In the time of crisis, they feel he’s handling it well and that makes people more risk-averse.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California at a rally in San Leandro, Calif., this week.
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

When the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom qualified for the ballot in April, Democrats scoffed. It was a futile piece of theater from the far right, they said. California is, after all, one of the bluest states in the country.

Then, abruptly and to Democrats’ alarm, the polls tightened. “Keep” and “remove” drew almost even. The party dispatched leaders as high as Vice President Kamala Harris to campaign with Mr. Newsom.

And now, with the election days away, we seem to have circled right back to where we started.

Mr. Newsom has opened a double-digit lead in recent polls, and it appears to be growing. A polling average compiled by FiveThirtyEight had “keep” at 55.7 percent and “remove” at 41.3 percent as of Friday afternoon, and an average compiled by RealClearPolitics showed an even bigger gap, 56.7 percent to 41 percent. The last time an individual poll in either of those averages showed “remove” ahead was in early August.

The most recent poll was released Friday by The Los Angeles Times and the University of California, Berkeley, and found “keep” ahead by more than 20 percentage points.

The shift appears to have been driven by growing Democratic engagement — many Democrats were not paying attention to the recall before, or ignored it because they thought it would easily fail — and by Democrats’ success in reframing the campaign as a binary choice between Mr. Newsom and one Republican challenger, Larry Elder, as opposed to a referendum on Mr. Newsom himself.

Of course, polls are fallible — as the 2016 and 2020 elections certainly proved — and upsets are always possible. But the advantage, and the momentum, clearly belongs to Mr. Newsom.

The radio host Larry Elder campaigning in Norwalk last month to become governor of California.
Credit…Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Follow our latest updates on the California Recall Election and Governor Newsom.

SACRAMENTO — For a generation, Larry Elder has been an AM radio fixture for millions of Californians, the voice they could count on when they were fed up with liberal Democratic politics. Undocumented immigrants? Deport them. Affirmative action? End it. Equal pay? The glass ceiling doesn’t exist.

Now Mr. Elder, a Los Angeles Republican who bills himself as “the sage from South Central,” could end up as the next governor of the nation’s most populous state. As the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom has become a dead heat among likely voters, Mr. Elder has emerged almost overnight as the front-runner in the campaign to replace him.

Fueled by a combination of arcane recall rules, name recognition and partisan desperation, his rise to the top of a pack of some four dozen challengers has stunned and unnerved many in both parties.

Democrats call him the agent of a far-right power grab. Republican rivals say he is an inexperienced, debate-dodging opportunist. Orrin Heatlie, the retired sheriff’s sergeant who is the recall’s lead proponent, said he and his fellow activists were voting for someone else.

This month, The Sacramento Bee and two Republican candidates — Kevin Faulconer, the former San Diego mayor, and Caitlyn Jenner, the television personality and former Olympian — demanded that Mr. Elder drop out of the race after an ex-girlfriend of his said he brandished a gun at her while high on marijuana during a 2015 breakup.

“We were having a conversation and he walked to the drawer and took out a .45 and checked to see that it was loaded,” Alexandra Datig, 51, said in an interview. Ms. Datig, who worked as an escort in the 1990s and now runs Front Page Index, a conservative website, said: “He wanted me to know he was ready to be very threatening to me. He’s a talented entertainer, but he shouldn’t be governor.”

Mr. Elder, 69, did not respond to requests for comment about Ms. Datig’s claims, but he did tweet that he has “never brandished a gun at anyone,” adding, “I am not going to dignify this with a response.”

The onslaught has come as a Sept. 14 election deadline nears. Ballots have been mailed to all active registered voters, asking whether the governor should be replaced, and, if so, by whom.


Credit…Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Constitutional scholars say Mr. Elder’s sudden ascent is an example of all that is wrong with the recall process, which requires a majority to recall a governor but only a plurality of votes for the replacement candidate to win. With 46 challengers on the ballot, 49.9 percent of the electorate could vote to keep Mr. Newsom, and he could still lose to a replacement who is supported by only a tiny sliver of voters. Polls show a rout by Mr. Newsom among all Californians but a far tighter race among likely voters, 20 percent of whom favor Mr. Elder.

Mr. Newsom, whose fate rides on turnout, has made a foil of Mr. Elder, a “small-l libertarian” who reliably agitates the governor’s base with claims, for instance, that the minimum wage should be zero, the “war on oil” should be ended and racial preferences are destructive.

“The leading candidate thinks climate change is a hoax, believes we need more offshore oil drilling, more fracking, does not believe a woman has the right to choose, actually came out against Roe v. Wade, does not believe in a minimum wage,” Mr. Newsom has told supporters.

“Don’t paint me as some wild-eyed radical,” Mr. Elder said in a recent interview. “I’m running because of crime, homelessness, the rising cost of living and the outrageous decisions made during Covid that shut down the state.”

To his loyal listeners, Mr. Elder paints himself as the native son of a California that was once simpler and safer than the teeming, disaster-prone nation-state he sees anchoring the West Coast today. Listeners know that his father, a former U.S. Marine, saved his pay as a janitor to open a restaurant in Los Angeles’s Pico-Union district, and to buy a house in a neighborhood that shifted from mostly white to mostly Black residents in less than a decade.

His father was also violently abusive, Mr. Elder wrote in 2018, driving him to leave home the moment he graduated from Crenshaw High School. Admitted to Brown University under an early affirmative action program, Mr. Elder, the second of three sons, stayed away from California for years, moving on to the University of Michigan Law School and becoming a lawyer and legal recruiter in Ohio.

He was a guest on a Cleveland PBS show when the stand-in host, the Los Angeles-based conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager, suggested he come back.

“I was so impressed with his original mind and phenomenal grasp of the issues that when I returned to Los Angeles I invited him onto my show — solely in order to persuade the KABC station manager to hire him,” Mr. Prager wrote in an email.


Credit…Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

It was the age of Rush Limbaugh, and Mr. Elder rose swiftly. Los Angeles progressives boycotted his advertisers, but he hung on, writing books, making Fox News appearances and expanding through syndication until 2014, when the station abruptly fired him. Another station soon picked him up; Salem Media Group has syndicated his show since 2016 and is holding his slot while he campaigns.

“I have never, ever, ever, ever thought I would be entering politics,” Mr. Elder said. But he was persuaded, he said, by Mr. Prager, Jack Hibbs, the evangelical pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, and a host of others including radio colleagues, his barber and his dry cleaner.

“I kept waiting for somebody to say, ‘Are you kidding?’” he said. “But nobody said that. People said: ‘If not you, who? If not now, when?’”

Mr. Elder’s political positions speak loudly and clearly to the state’s small but vocal strain of far-right conservatism. He supports school vouchers and prioritizes jobs over environmental and climate considerations. He opposes abortion. He is vaccinated against the coronavirus because of a rare blood condition but opposes vaccine and mask “mandates.”

And, G.O.P. consultants note, Mr. Elder is among a handful of California Republicans with enough name recognition to compete in a state of almost 40 million people.

“I’ve been a listener of his for years,” said Shelby Nicole Owens, 35, a Republican in the rural community of Sonora who admired Mr. Elder’s consistency and “common-sense approach” long before her ballot arrived in her mailbox.

“Done and done!” she posted on his Facebook page, adding a kiss-blowing emoji after marking her vote.

But establishment Republicans such as Mr. Faulconer say he is more suited to provocation than to governing.

While other candidates disclosed their income taxes, Mr. Elder supplied partial returns and then successfully challenged the state requirement, keeping his private.


Credit…Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

After incomplete conflict-of-interest disclosures — now being investigated by state campaign finance regulators — were amended, they showed that Mr. Elder is being paid by The Epoch Times, a purveyor of political misinformation and far-right conspiracy theories.

He has refused to debate other Republicans and bashed the news media when challenged. He has told left-leaning editorial boards that President Biden fairly won in 2020 and conservative radio interviewers that he did not.

He has recanted assertions made in 2008 that climate change is “a crock” but, in an interview, offered $10,000 to charity for proof he had ever said that and falsely claimed that “nobody really knows to what degree” humans caused climate change. He has written that Democrats do better with female voters because, according to academic research, “women know less than men about political issues.”

In an interview this month, Mr. Elder said he had been single since an amicable divorce in the 1990s, and now shares his Hollywood Hills home with a girlfriend who is an interior designer.

Asked about Ms. Datig, he said they had dated “for a few months and that’s it.” Ms. Datig said they lived together between 2013 and 2015 for 18 months and discussed marriage.

Employed by Heidi Fleiss and the now-deceased Beverly Hills Madam during the 1990s, Ms. Datig has since spoken publicly against sex trafficking and worked as an assistant to a now-retired Los Angeles city councilman. She used her connections to help Mr. Elder get a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, she said, and tattooed “Larry’s Girl” across her lower back.


Credit…via Alexandra Datig

But as the relationship deteriorated, she said, he threatened eviction. A legal agreement shows she left for $13,000 in relocation money, $7,000 for tattoo removal and a Cadillac.

She did not report the alleged gun incident to the police, she said, in part because she had signed a 2014 nondisclosure agreement, but she did ask for help from acquaintances and city officials. Three confirmed last week that they had gotten her emails.

Ms. Datig, who has endorsed Mr. Faulconer, said she went public after learning that her NDA was less restrictive than she had realized.

And Ms. Owens, the voter? At her farm in Tuolumne County, she predicted that fans of Mr. Elder would be unshaken.

“There does not seem to be a politician alive today,” she said, “that doesn’t have some sort of past relationship scandal.”

The sage from South Central, she added, still has her vote.

Posters at a rally for Gov. Newsom in Los Angeles on Saturday. 
Credit…Allison Zaucha for The New York Times

Follow our latest updates on the California Recall Election and Governor Newsom.

The two questions Californians have been asked are simple: Should Gov. Gavin Newsom be removed from his job? And if so, who should take his place?

But as the Sept. 14 special election date to decide Mr. Newsom’s political fate comes into clearer view, many of the state’s 22 million registered and active voters have found themselves with more questions — about what’s at stake and how to ensure their voices are heard.

Here’s what voters need to know:

Officially, the recall election is on Sept. 14. But because it is happening under an extension of pandemic rules that were created during the 2020 presidential election, that’s really more of a deadline than it is an Election Day in a more traditional sense.

Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Sept. 14. (You don’t need to add a stamp; you should have a return envelope.) Voters can also return their ballots to a secure drop box by Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. (Look up the ones closest to you here.)

Finally, voters can cast ballots in person — and in many places early voting is available. (You can find early voting locations here.)

All registered and active California voters should have received a ballot by mail in the past couple of weeks. You can mail that ballot back or drop it in a drop box. You can also vote in person.


Credit…Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You can look up ballot drop boxes near you on the California secretary of state’s website. You can also mail the ballot back.

You can track when your vote-by-mail ballot is mailed, received and counted at

You can check whether you’re registered to vote here. If you’re not registered within 14 days of an election, in California, you can also register the day of the vote. (So, in this case, on Sept. 14.) You can learn more about same-day voter registration here.

Early voting began Sept. 4 in some areas, and all counties will have one or more locations for early voting from Sept. 11 to Sept. 14. Early voting locations that will open starting Sept. 11 and ballot drop-off locations can be found here.

Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Sept. 14. Ballots returned at a secure drop box must be deposited by 8 p.m. on Sept. 14.

There are 46 candidates listed on the ballot, a mix of politicians, entertainers and business people that includes the Olympian and reality television star Caitlyn Jenner; the businessman John Cox, who campaigned with a Kodiak bear; and Kevin Paffrath, a YouTube personality who in a debate suggested he’d solve California’s water problems with a pipeline to the Mississippi River.

Also on the ballot are the pink Corvette-driving Hollywood enigma Angelyne and a Green Party candidate, Dan Kapelovitz, whose official candidate bio says, simply, “Can you dig it?”

San Diego’s former mayor Kevin Faulconer, a moderate Republican, is also running, as is Kevin Kiley, a more conservative Republican state assemblyman and frequent antagonist of the governor. About half of the candidates are Republicans.

But it was the conservative talk radio host Larry Elder who emerged as a front-runner almost overnight, leveraging national name recognition. He has drawn criticism from both Democrats and Republicans but has a large and fervent base of fans.

The Republican Doug Ose, a former congressman, will appear on the ballot, but he has stopped campaigning and has endorsed Mr. Kiley after having a heart attack.

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You can, but if it’s Gavin Newsom, it won’t count. Your write-in vote also will not count unless your preferred write-in candidate is on the state’s certified list of write-in candidates.

No, and you can’t write him in. (See above.) California law prohibits the incumbent from being listed in a recall as a replacement candidate.



Credit…Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

No one. In fact, Mr. Newsom has encouraged voters to skip that question entirely. (Just as long as they vote “No” on the question of whether he should be recalled.)

No — your vote will count even if you answer just one.

No, only the recall. There wasn’t enough time for any ballot initiatives to qualify.

After Election Day, county election officials have to complete their work receiving and counting ballots, although we may have some idea of the vote by then, since nearly eight million ballots have already been returned and many more are expected to come in as we get closer. Counties can process early ballots and get them ready to count, but they cannot start tallying until 8 p.m. Pacific, when the polls close.

Vote counting tends to be slow in California because there are so many voters. And there is a seven-day window after the election to allow mail-in ballots postmarked on Sept. 14 to arrive.

But the large number of early returns should streamline the tally, and counties must begin reporting results to the states within two hours after the polls close.

Thirty-eight days after the election, the California Secretary of State will certify the election results and, if the recall is successful, the new governor will be sworn in.

It doesn’t matter. The recall question is determined by majority vote. If more than 50 percent of the voters vote yes on the recall, Mr. Newsom must step down as governor.

The replacement question is determined by who gets the most votes among the challengers on the ballot. So 49.9 percent of the voters can back Mr. Newsom, and he can still lose to someone who is supported by only, say, 20 percent of the electorate. On the replacement question, the winner does not need a majority to be named the next governor.

In some states, such as Oregon and Michigan, if a governor is recalled by voters, the lieutenant governor automatically gets the job. But California law states that voters must choose who replaces the governor in an election.

Of the 19 states that allow recalls of state officials, most leave the choice of replacement in the hands of voters.

The new governor would be in office for the remainder of Mr. Newsom’s term, which would be through Jan. 2, 2023. (California has a regularly scheduled election for governor next year.)


Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters

Initially, the Republicans who started the recall disagreed with Mr. Newsom on issues like the death penalty and his opposition to President Donald Trump’s policies. The effort was widely viewed as a long shot.

Then two particular factors boosted the campaign: A judge allowed more time for leaders of the recall to gather signatures because of pandemic lockdowns. And growing frustration among some Californians over health restrictions came to a head when Mr. Newsom was seen dining maskless with lobbyists at an expensive, exclusive Napa Valley restaurant called the French Laundry after asking Californians to wear masks and stay home.

As the pandemic dragged on, recall supporters focused their arguments on the governor’s response, criticizing it as overly restrictive. Prolonged school closures drew ire during the last school year, as did pandemic unemployment fraud.

More recently, proponents have argued that broader social ills such as homelessness have worsened during Mr. Newsom’s tenure, that Democrats have de facto one-party rule in California and that the high cost of living is driving Californians out.

Mr. Newsom’s Democratic allies charge that the effort is an undemocratic far-right power grab by Trumpian extremists who would otherwise never see a Republican elected to California’s top state office.

They also note that if U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s term ends prematurely, the governor will appoint her replacement, which could flip the balance of power in the U.S. Senate and allow Republicans to block, for example, President Biden’s nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Newsom’s supporters have lauded the governor’s handling of the pandemic, citing California’s relative success in controlling the virus, record state aid for families and businesses hurt by the pandemic and California’s swift rebound to economic health.

The recall is being funded mostly by conservative and Republican donors. Geoff Palmer, a Southern California real estate developer and Donald Trump supporter, for instance, has donated more than $1 million. John Kruger, an Orange County charter school supporter who objected to pandemic restrictions on religious gatherings, donated $500,000 to the recall at an early key point. The Republican Party has pumped money into the effort, as have national figures such as Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.

But money in favor of the recall has been dwarfed by the fund-raising against it. California law treats the recall question as a ballot issue, which means the campaigns for and against the recall can accept unlimited donations. The replacement candidates, however, must abide by a $32,400-per-election limit on individual contributions. All the donations to replacement candidates, put together, are still smaller than the governor’s war chest.

Among individual campaigns with the most money, those who have donated the maximum to Mr. Elder largely reflect the recall’s broader funding, with substantial contributions from conservative and Trump-supporting Republicans. Mr. Faulconer’s top donors include more moderate Republicans such as William Oberndorf, a major G.O.P. donor who opposed Mr. Trump’s election, and a variety of business interests. Mr. Cox, a Republican who lost in 2018 to Mr. Newsom, has largely self-funded his campaign.

The recall opposition is being funded mostly by establishment interests, organized labor and Democrats. The founder of Netflix, Reed Hastings, has donated $3 million to defend Mr. Newsom, for example. Show business and Silicon Valley have heavily donated against the recall. Labor groups — unions for teachers, prison guards, health workers and other public employees — have made major donations. So have tribal organizations in the state and major business groups such as the California Association of Realtors and chambers of commerce. Mr. Newsom used his financial edge to swamp his Republican rivals and proponents of the recall on television by a nearly four-to-one ratio in July and August, spending $20.4 million to the recall supporters’ $5.6 million, according to data provided by the ad-tracking firm AdImpact.

The Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Mercury News, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Sacramento Bee have urged voters to vote no on the recall, arguing that, at a cost of some $276 million, it is a waste of money or that the time to vote for or against the governor is next year, when he runs for re-election.

The Orange County Register, which is traditionally a right-of-center opinion page, recommends a yes vote and endorsed Mr. Elder in an editorial that was picked up by some suburban papers under the same ownership in Southern California.

The Bakersfield Californian recommends a yes vote and endorsed Mr. Faulconer.

National newspapers also have weighed in on the recall. The New York Times came out in opposition to the recall, and The Wall Street Journal blamed it on housing policies in California.

Here is an expanded explainer. Here is an episode of “The Daily” podcast on the recall. Here is the California secretary of state’s guide to the recall.

Here is a guide from the nonprofit, nonpartisan news site CalMatters to Governor Newsom’s record. And here is a recent debate among Mr. Paffrath, Mr. Cox, Mr. Kiley and Mr. Faulconer.

Here are interviews with Mr. Elder, Mr. Kiley, Mr. Cox and Mr. Paffrath by CalMatters, a Fox News interview with Caitlyn Jenner; and an interview that The Sacramento Bee did with Mr. Faulconer.

State and local officials said the ballot holes in envelopes were placed in the envelope, on either end of a signature line, to help low-vision voters know where to sign it, said Jenna Dresner, a spokeswoman for the California Secretary of State’s Office of Election Cybersecurity.

One of the biggest unfounded rumors circulating about the election is that the holes were being used to screen out votes that say “yes” to a recall. Here’s more about how that rumor circulated online.

Most changes to the process require amendments to the State Constitution, where the right to a recall was enshrined in 1911.

Amending the Constitution takes two steps:

First, the State Legislature has to pass the proposed amendment with two-thirds in support in each house. (Alternatively, voters can collect close to a million signatures in support; experts say this route is less likely.)

Then, the amendment appears on a statewide ballot, where it requires a simple majority to become law.

There are some less fundamental changes that the Legislature could enact without voter approval, such as a ban on paid signature gathering.

But the most common ideas — such as raising the signature requirement above 12 percent, allowing the incumbent to run as a replacement candidate or having the lieutenant governor automatically replace a recalled governor — would require constitutional amendments.

Soumya Karlamangla and Davey Alba contributed reporting.