Monthly Archives: September 2003

After the votes are cast on October 7 in California’s recall, what will we know, and when will we know it?

Many voters and others are probably assuming that some time late on October 7, we will know whether Governor Davis has been recalled, and, if so, who his successor will be. That might well be true, if this U.S.A. Today/Gallup/CNN poll is accurate. The poll shows the recall succeeding by a large margin and Schwarzenegger leading Bustamante by 15 percentage points. Other polls have shown a much closer race. If we have a close race on Part 1, Part 2, or both, it may be many days after the election until the results are known.
It will take a while for elections officials to count all the abstentee ballots, some of which will be turned in on election day, as well as provisional ballots (ballots cast where there is a question about the voter’s qualifications to cast the vote). County elections officials have up to 28 days to get their final results to the Secretary of State. (Elections Code section 11328 (usual rules for conducting, canvassing, and declaring results of election apply in recall election); section 15308 (elections official certifies results within 28 days of the election).)
After the results, there may be a request made for a voter recount. (Elections Code section 15620 et seq.) It is also possible for elections officials (Elections Code 15610 et seq) or courts (Elections Code section 15640 et seq.) to order a recount. Following certification, there is also the possibility of an elections contest. Elections Code section 16100 sets forth the grounds for an election contest. Finally, because the Ninth Circuit left open the possibility of a federal equal protection or Voting Rights Act claim if the election is close (see here), we could potentially see litigation in federal court.
For those who care about finality and an end to litigation, we should hope that the election is not close, whatever the outcome.

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