California recall voting: Conspiracy theories, unproven fraud claims, and the facts you need
The recall campaigning is all but over, and voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to oust Gavin Newsom — and, if so, who should become governor of California.
Polls show the recall effort is struggling. But some Republicans have made unproven claims of voter fraud. As The Times’ Anita Chabria and Maura Dolan reported last week, it’s an extension of the conspiracy theories that the alt-right spread after Donald Trump lost the presidency to Joe Biden last year.
“Some recall campaign leaders fear that mistrust could backfire on their cause by discouraging conservatives from casting ballots. The short timeline of the special election, wildfires and the pandemic have left some counties with fewer options for in-person polling places, making it imperative for the movement to recall Newsom to turn out its voters by any means possible. But fraud rumors are especially prevalent around mail-in ballots,” they wrote.
Some far-right “poll watchers” also are working in parts of California during the recall election, according to an investigation by The Times’ Paige St. John.
“Election watch campaigns are running full force as California nears the Tuesday close of the gubernatorial recall election, only slightly toned down from the suspicion and accusations that dogged the November presidential contest as they collect what they say is fodder for future court challenges and political campaigns,” St. John reported. “In some cases, election chiefs are pushing back, debunking false rumors they might have ignored in the past or shutting down voter signature challenges they say were abused — marking new battle lines in the nation’s political misinformation war.”
And some expect legal challenges, even if the results are not close.
The California recall began with an air of chaos and uncertainty. But it appears to be ending as a two-person race: Gavin Newsom fighting to avoid recall, and Larry Elder trying to overcome the candidates vying to replace Newsom if voters oust him.
The two men have come to dominate the race: Elder blaming Newsom for myriad problems facing California, and Newsom pointing to Elder’s extreme conservative views and warning what would happen if the Republican becomes governor.
What you need to know about California’s Sept. 14 recall election targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Academics and activists alike say that improvements to the rules and reasons for a recall contest are long overdue. And polling indicates voters might be ready for changes too.
The state of the race
Larry Elder has struggled to gain wide support in his old neighborhood in his quest to become California’s first Black governor.
The Larry Elder story
Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democrats are singularly focused on Californians casting a “no” vote on the first part of the recall ballot. That may leave some voters unaware they can also choose a replacement in the event Newsom loses.
The Gavin Newsom story
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