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Full coverage: Newsom soundly defeats California recall effort

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Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Newsom addresses a crowd in Sacramento on Tuesday night. Newsom defeated an attempt to oust him from office.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Larry Elder led the 46 candidates on the second question on the ballot hoping to become governor, but that became meaningless after a majority of Californians voted to keep Gavin Newsom in office.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a historic recall election Tuesday, winning a vote of confidence during a COVID-19 pandemic that has shattered families and livelihoods and tested his ability to lead the state through the largest worldwide health crisis in modern times.

The recall offered Republicans their best chance in more than a decade to take the helm of the largest state in the union. But the effort was undercut when Newsom and the nation’s leading Democrats, aided by visits to California by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, portrayed the campaign to oust the governor as a “life and death” battle against “Trumpism” and far-right anti-vaccine activists.

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Will Elder run for governor in 2022? ‘Stay tuned,’ recall candidate tells supporters

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VIDEO | 01:29
Republican recall election candidate Larry Elder concedes

“We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war,” Larry Elder told the crowd as he took the stage at his Costa Mesa election night party.

Leading Republican candidate Larry Elder conceded defeat in the gubernatorial recall election Tuesday night, urging his supporters to be “gracious in defeat.”

“We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war,” Elder told the crowd as he took the stage at his Costa Mesa election night party a little more than two hours after polls closed.

With his girlfriend, Nina Perry, by his side, Elder thanked his campaign staff and supporters, and greeted state politicians in the raucous crowd — including former Monterey Park Mayor Betty Chu and former Democratic lawmaker Gloria Romero.

At times, Elder’s 36-minute concession address closely resembled his stump speeches, with a focus on crime, homelessness, housing and education, and the candidate repeated many of the same lines about various issues that he has used on the campaign trail.

“We are forcing them now to pay attention to the problem of homelessness,” Elder continued. “We are forcing them to do a better job on schools. We are forcing them now to do a better job on clearing our forests. We are forcing them to do a better job about energy. We are forcing them now to pay attention to the things they should have paid attention to two years ago.”

Elder criticized former President Obama, who appeared in campaign ads urging Californians to reject the recall.

He also spent several minutes speaking about his parents and his origin story.

“My father always told my brothers and me hard work wins,” Elder said. “You get out of life what you put into it. You do not control the outcome, Larry, but you are 100% in control of the effort.”

“I have been a politician for all of seven or eight weeks — how am I doing?” Elder asked the room toward the end of his speech, his supporters exploding in applause. “They are now listening in ways they never listened before. They’re now hearing us in ways they never heard us before.”

After once again thanking his campaign volunteers, staff and the religious leaders who supported him, Elder closed out his speech by addressing the 2022 gubernatorial race.

Tomorrow, he said, the media would be asking him what he planned to do next.

“As a former radio host, let me just say this: Stay tuned,” Elder said.

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Video: Newsom victory speech credits voters for saying ‘yes to science’

California Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a historic recall election Tuesday, winning a vote of confidence during a COVID-19 pandemic that has shattered families and livelihoods and tested his ability to lead the state through the largest worldwide health crisis in modern times.

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Jenner accepts defeat after garnering about 1% of early vote, then promotes false claims of voter fraud

First-time Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner began her election night speech shortly after 8:30 p.m., acknowledging her disappointment in the early election results but thanking her supporters for their positive reaction to her candidacy.

Jenner, with only 1.2% of the early vote among recall candidates, seemed to accept the validity of the results, but also gave credence to false claims of voter fraud in state and national elections.

At first, Jenner said she’d “let another candidate” discuss the issue. Then she continued.

“We need to make voting very simple and impossible to cheat,” she said. “Here we live in California, the tech center of the state, and you can’t get a voting system that the public has trust in?”

She thanked her team, which included at least three ex-staffers of former President Trump, and credited them for helping her navigate interviews with the media.

Asked whether she would run for office in 2022, Jenner said: “We will see. I’m 71 years old. Playing in the fourth quarter. Feeling like there’s a lot of life left in me.… We’ll see what path that takes.”

She said she would “sit back a little bit,” but is already looking for future opportunities and plans to stay involved in politics. Jenner said she particularly wants to work on making the Republican Party “more inclusive.”

“I’ve always been a Republican because I’ve always believed in conservative economic values,” she told the couple of dozen supporters gathered in the Westlake Village Inn dining room. “But then when it comes to social issues, we have to be more progressive, and that is something the Republican Party has really been lacking.

“The Republican Party needs to change, and I’m kind of the poster child for change.”

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Did Newsom’s ‘no and go’ strategy limit votes on Question 2?

Never did two questions matter so much for the future of California.

Shall Gavin Newsom be recalled from the office of governor? If so, who should succeed him?

While Newsom easily fended off the recall and will serve out the remaining 15 months of his term, political analysts will be studying the numbers, and in particular, the percentage of voters who didn’t answer the second question. Partial results show that the second question garnered nearly 4 million fewer votes than the first.

According to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll cosponsored by The Times and released on Friday, nearly a third of likely voters said they would take a pass on voting on the second question, a number that increased to 49% among the state’s likely Democratic voters.

The term is called “ballot roll-off,” and for Thad Kousser, a professor of political science at UC San Diego, the decision to leave the second half of the ballot blank is “shocking.”

“This is not healthy for democracy,” he said, “because it leaves only a fraction of our electorate voting in this incredibly consequential election.”

But he adds, as a strategy for Newsom “it’s brilliant.”

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Kevin Faulconer has ‘no doubt about the integrity of this election’

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer stands in front of microphones with two people nearby.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer makes a campaign swing through Covina on Aug. 13.
(Faith E. Pinho / Los Angeles Times)

Former San Diego mayor and recall candidate Kevin Faulconer said Tuesday night that he has “no doubt about the integrity” of the election results.

“Claiming voter fraud without evidence suppresses the vote and harms our democracy,” he said in a statement.

His comments came shortly after polls closed and as national television networks called the election for Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Faulconer, a Republican who spent six years running a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, is the most experienced politician in the field of 46 candidates who were vying for Newsom’s job. However, he struggled in his attempts to emerge as the frontrunner in the race.

As of 10 p.m., Faulconer had received 9.3% of the vote, putting him behind Larry Elder and Democrat Kevin Paffrath.

Throughout his campaign he has championed his record on alleviating homelessness in San Diego and his ability to work across the aisle with Democrats.

He said while there’s still votes to count “it’s clear our work in California is not finished.”

“Tonight was Round 1,” he continued. “There’s more to come.”

Staff Writer Laura J. Nelson contributed to this report

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Assemblyman Kevin Kiley said recall supporters have had ‘every obstacle’ thrown in their path

Recall candidate and state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (D-Rocklin) said supporters of the recall have faced immense odds to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom, who raised far more money and had the president stump for him.

“We have had every obstacle thrown in our path throughout this whole process,” Kiley said from inside Oliver’s Brewhouse and Grill in the Placer County town of Lincoln, a city he represents in the Legislature. “We’ll see if we overcome the final obstacle here with a win tonight.”

Shortly before 10 p.m., Kiley had received just 3.1% of the vote — sixth place in the field of recall candidates.

The choice of location for Kiley’s campaign event was a nod to the recall itself. The owner of Oliver’s Brewhouse, Matthew Oliver, has been openly critical of Newsom’s pandemic policies. Last year, Oliver threatened to keep one of his other restaurants open past a curfew Newsom had announced on nonessential businesses and allowed indoor dining against state orders at the time, according to news reports.

Oliver opened the brewhouse in Lincoln inside a 175-year-old historic building where the previous tenants had closed last year during the pandemic.

A large screen in the upstairs event space of the restaurant was packed with a few hundred supporters on Tuesday night waiting for the polls to close.

“Whatever the results are, there is no doubt that this movement is here to stay,” Kiley said. “It is changing the game of California politics.”

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‘We don’t believe those polls, do we?’ Elder supporters in Orange County maintain race could turn around

A markedly different version of election night reality played out in the ballroom of a Costa Mesa Hilton at Larry Elder’s official election night party.

While not exactly joyful, the mood remained defiant, even after nearly every major outlet had declared the recall effort dead.

“Some TV stations are saying it’s coming to an end. It’s way too early,” former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado said from the lectern to raucous cheers, as partygoers sipped drinks and waved American flags.

Near the front of the room, a quartet of older women danced with outstretched “Larry Elder for Governor” flags raised between them as a seven-man band led by Bing Crosby’s grandson played midcentury hits.

“Hello Orange County, we don’t believe those polls, do we?” a blonde woman said from the stage, to further cheers.

But even as speakers maintained that the race could still turn around, scattered partygoers looked increasingly glum as they stared down at their phones. Others kept dancing.

“The numbers are pretty clear at this point,” Will Donahue, the 21-year-old chairman of California College Republicans, said as he pulled an iPhone out of his suit pocket to show a reporter his organization’s official statement on “Newsom Recall Failure.” The statement said the group was disappointed by the results, but plans to “build on the recall’s momentum and win in 2022.”

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Newsom offers gratitude to voters after avoiding recall

Moments after it had become clear that Gov. Gavin Newsom had beaten back an effort to oust him from office, the governor offered his gratitude to voters Tuesday night.

“I’m humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote and express themselves so overwhelmingly by rejecting the division, by rejecting the cynicism, by rejecting so much of the negativity that’s defined our politics in this country over the course of so many years,” Newsom said.

The historic election provided California voters an opportunity to judge Newsom’s ability to lead the state through the COVID-19 pandemic, a worldwide health crisis that has shattered families and livelihoods. In the end, Newsom emerged as the second governor in U.S. history to overcome a recall attempt.

And it wasn’t just the recall question on the ballot — so much more was at stake, he said.

“No is not the only thing that was expressed tonight. I want to focus on what what we said yes to as a state,” Newsom said. “We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic, we said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression, we said yes to women’s fundamental constitutional right to decide for herself what she does for her body.

“We said yes to diversity, we said yes to inclusion....we said yes to all those things we hold dear as Californians and I would argue, as Americans.”

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It’s now Larry Elder’s California GOP. What’s his next move?

Although the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom failed, the lightning two-month campaign appears to have had at least one clear beneficiary — Larry Elder.

The conservative talk radio host jumped to the front of the pack of 46 recall challengers soon after he entered the race on July 12, enhancing his brand as a media provocateur and potentially paving the way for a future run for office.

His showing Tuesday, when he led the challengers by a wide margin, could establish him as the putative leader of the state’s Republican Party.

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Lopez: The recall was a colossal waste. But don’t expect California’s GOP to learn from it

Was this the most frivolous waste of time in California election history?

It was a serious contender, that’s for sure.

“I’d say it was primarily a waste of time because it never became about the big issues confronting California,” said Rob Stutzman.

“Much ado about nothing,” said Mike Madrid.

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5 takeaways from Newsom’s big win in California’s recall election

A recall campaign that at one point appeared poised to upend Democratic politics in sapphire-blue California concluded Tuesday with the status quo preserved, as Gov. Gavin Newson handily beat back an effort to oust him from office.

A strong GOP showing at the polls on election day could not match Democratic dominance in early voting. Concerns among Democrats over the summer that their party’s voters were more apathetic than highly motivated Republican ones resulted in a torrent of spending on television and outreach efforts to every part of the traditional Democratic coalition, including labor, minorities and women.

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Newsom soundly defeats California recall effort

California Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a historic recall election Tuesday, winning a vote of confidence during a COVID-19 pandemic that has shattered families and livelihoods and tested his ability to lead the state through the largest worldwide health crisis in modern times.

National television networks called the election for Newsom shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Surveys of voters leaving the polls had shown the recall headed for defeat and Elder leading the field of 46 candidates vying to succeed Newsom.

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Newsom soundly defeats California recall effort and will remain governor

California Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a historic recall election Tuesday, winning a vote of confidence during a COVID-19 pandemic that has shattered families and livelihoods and tested his ability to lead the state through the largest worldwide health crisis in modern times.

National television networks called the election for Newsom shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Surveys of voters leaving the polls had shown the recall headed for defeat and Larry Elder leading the field of 46 candidates vying to succeed Newsom.

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Video: Understanding California’s recall election night

L.A. Times Political Reporter Seema Mehta discusses the second drop of results of election results.

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AP: Californians reject Newsom recall efforts

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CNN and NBC project Newsom to stave off recall efforts

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Larry Elder dominates field, Caitlyn Jenner fades in recall race

With early returns showing the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom failing, the vote to replace him might end up being a footnote on this historic night.

But conservative talk show host Larry Elder is currently dominating the replacement field.

Here is how it looks now:

  • Larry Elder 39.9%
  • Kevin Paffrath 12.2%
  • Kevin Faulconer 10.7%
  • Brandon Ross 6.5%
  • John Cox 4.5%
  • Caitlyn Jenner 1.2%
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Newsom takes early lead in recall; Elder top challenger

Gov. Gavin Newsom took the lead in early returns Tuesday night in California’s historic recall election, a vote that will either allow him to serve out his term or install a Republican governor in this Democratic stronghold for the first time in more than a decade.

Counts of mail-in ballots, which tend to lean Democratic, show “no” on the recall leading by about 70%, with 47% of the expected vote tallied. In the race to replace Newsom if he is ousted, Larry Elder was leading with about 40% of the vote.

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Video: First results in California’s recall election

L.A. Times Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers discusses the early numbers as polls close.

L.A. Times Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers discusses the early numbers as polls close.

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Polls close as California awaits results of Newsom recall election

With polls closing, California awaits the results of Tuesday’s historic recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom that will either allow him to serve out his term or install a Republican governor in this Democratic stronghold for the first time in more than a decade.

The election provided California voters an opportunity to judge Newsom’s ability to lead the state through the COVID-19 pandemic, a worldwide health crisis that has shattered families and livelihoods.

The recall offered Republicans their best chance in years to take the helm of the largest state in the union, though Newsom and the nation’s leading Democrats, including President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, portrayed the campaign to oust him as a “life and death” battle against “Trumpism” and far-right, anti-vaccine activists.

Conservative talk show host Larry Elder emerged during the campaign as the favorite among the 46 candidates on the ballot hoping to become the governor, though a victory would become meaningless if a majority of Californians vote to keep Newsom in office. If elected, Elder would become the first Black governor in state history.

Newsom spent part of election day at an anti-recall rally in a San Francisco union hall, and warned supporters about the consequences to California’s economy and the public health of its nearly 40 million residents if he was recalled and replaced with Elder, who has vowed to repeal the state’s mask and vaccination mandates.

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Poll worker removed after he shows up wearing a “Trump 2020" hat and “Trump Train” mask

Frank K. Santoyo walked into his West Hollywood polling place Monday evening and was taken aback by what he saw.

The man handing him his ballot was wearing a baseball cap with the words “Trump 2020.”

The words “All Aboard the Trump Train” could be seen on his face mask, underneath an image of an actual train.

And the poll worker’s T-shirt featured the phrase “Where’s Hunter?” — a reference to the son of President Biden, a frequent target of Republicans.

Santoyo, 53, took a photo of the poll worker and posted it on Twitter, where it quickly drew thousands of views. Then he called the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, asking whether the Trump garb violated any rules around polling places.

”They put me on hold for a long time,” said Santoyo, who works as a mechanic. “Then, when they came back on, they said he had been fired.”

The Times was unable to locate the poll worker, who appears in the photo with a name tag that says he speaks both English and Russian. Michael Sanchez, spokesman for the registrar-recorder, confirmed that the poll worker had been relieved of his duties.

“The election worker was contacted and advised that the attire was inappropriate and unacceptable,” Sanchez said in an email. “Based on his response and reports that other workers had previously counseled him on this, he was released and is no longer working at the vote center.”

Sanchez said the county’s election office has a policy prohibiting poll workers from wearing clothing with “partisan” messages, including anything with the names of candidates from previous or current elections.

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Video: How the L.A. Times election results page works

Data and Graphics Department Editor Ben Welsh explains the numbers and methodology behind the Times’ election results page.

Data and Graphics Department Editor Ben Welsh explains the number.

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‘Gavin Newsom is doing the best he can’: Fresno father and daughter vote no on recall

Azalea Lewis, 21, was voting for the first time Tuesday at the Cecil C. Hinton Center in west Fresno because of two men she respects: her father, Clinton, and Barack Obama.

Clinton Lewis is a janitor by trade, but said he’ll do “whatever job it takes to get paid.” He voted no on the recall by mail.

“Gavin Newsom is doing the best he can. This is just about shuffling for a better position for Republicans in a Democratic state,” he said.

A woman walked by and expressed her support for John Cox, a candidate who wants to overhaul environmental regulations and opposes mask and vaccine requirements.

“Did you vote?” Clinton called after her. “Cause there’s no use talking unless you voted. You can’t raise an issue but don’t vote.”

Azalea, who recently started a job at an Amazon Fulfillment Center, said that knowing her father voted made her think about casting her own ballot.

“But I didn’t know that much about the politics involved,” she said.

Then she saw a commercial featuring Barack Obama urging voters to reject the Republican gambit unless they wanted to see more of rising racism.

“I trust him,” she said. “So here I am.”

Neither voted on the second question of who to replace Newsom if he is recalled because they said they didn’t have time to wade through all those ballot statements.

Azalea has her eyes on saving money and going to college in Washington state, where she spent happy early childhood years.

“California is tricky. I don’t see a future here. I feel like I could do more things I want to do like run my own business in Washington,” she said. “But I care what happens here.”

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Video: The impact of recall politics on Gov. Gavin Newsom

L.A. Times reporter Taryn Luna and columnist Mark Z. Barabak discuss the road ahead for California’s embattled governor.

L.A. Times reporter Taryn Luna and columnist Mark Z. Barabak discuss the road ahead for California’s embattled governor.

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Voters aren’t reflecting the diversity of California, early data show

California researchers have long noticed that the state’s diversity isn’t reflected in the makeup of voters who show up to cast ballots and that appears to be the case, too, in early voting in the recall election.

Information compiled by Political Data Inc., a California election research company, shows that young voters and Latino voters were showing up as a smaller percentage of early ballots relative to their share of the registered electorate.

Data reported through late Tuesday show that 64% of all ballots collected were cast by Californians ages 50 or older — even though voters in those older age groups make up only 49% of registered voters. Only 16% of the early votes cast in the race to keep or remove Gov. Gavin Newsom came from voters ages 18 to 34, a group that represents 28% of the voters who were mailed a ballot.

In terms of race and ethnicity, Latino voters were also underrepresented in the early reports. While comprising 27% of all voters, only 18% of the first ballots came from Latinos.

White voters were overrepresented in the ballots that had been submitted by late Tuesday by 9 percentage points relative to their portion of the registered electorate. Voter diversity has been a lingering challenge in California.

Researchers at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California began reporting on the state’s “exclusive electorate” in the early 2000s. At the same time the state was growing more diverse, its voters were reflecting an era that had passed by.

“Voters in California tend to be older, white, college educated, affluent, and homeowners,” PPIC researchers wrote in an updated report in 2016. “They also tend to identify themselves as ‘haves’ — rather than ‘have nots’ —when asked to choose between these two economic categories.

Nonvoters tend to be younger, Latino, renters, less affluent, and less likely to be college educated than likely voters — and they generally identify themselves as ‘have nots.’”

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Bakersfield oil worker casts his ballot for Elder, hopes ‘California can be great again’

Chase Knight drove straight to a voting center in Bakersfield after working all day in the oil fields near Magic Mountain. He voted to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Knight said he never liked Newsom and was especially concerned about his plans to block fracking.

“Everything is made from oil,” said Knight, 24, whose “I Voted” sticker stood out against his work jumpsuit, which was coated in oil.

Knight said he was initially torn between Larry Elder and John Cox. He believes both are good candidates, but ultimately went with Elder, a man whose voice he’s listened to over the radio for years.

Knight said he hopes “California can be great again.”

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All quiet at the Capitol as California awaits recall election results

Despite the historic moment in California politics, the Capitol was nearly empty Tuesday and the urgency of the recall election seemed far away, except for a half-dozen news crews staking out spots for live shots.

Rick Avery, 69, was riding his electric blue mobility scooter around the sidewalks, checking out the exotic trees that fill the grounds, a favorite pastime of the Sacramento native.

“Today is the recall?” he asked when a reporter inquired if he had voted. He hadn’t. “I’m kind of indifferent,” Avery said, twisting at a small peace sign ring on his pinkie finger.

“I don’t really watch the news. Trump turned me off of that,” Avery said. He thinks Newsom is doing a pretty good job, but Jerry Brown was his favorite governor. “He was dating Linda Ronstadt, so you’ve got to be good to date Linda, right?” he said.

Patti Roberts, a retired state program manager and former journalist in Los Angeles, was sitting on a nearby bench with her silver bike leaning against it. She had voted weeks ago, at City Hall.

She usually votes in person because she “loves the ritual of it,” she said, but this time “I was so concerned that my vote was counted” that she went early. That left today open for the New York Times crossword puzzle, which she had printed out and brought with her.

On the grass a few feet away, Jeremy Parker and Anuj Vaidya were eating Indian takeout. Parker, a psychiatrist from Vallejo, admitted he hadn’t voted. The 2020 presidential election was the first time he had cast a ballot, and he wasn’t quite sure why he hadn’t this time.

“I don’t know why it didn’t bring me around to action,” he said of the recall. Vaidya, a green-card holder, isn’t eligible to vote. But the idea of a far-right takeover of the governor’s office was “scary,” he said.

On another bench in a bit of shade, Coast Guard veteran Donald Harris Jr., 49, sat with his yellow backpack, chugging on a Pepsi.

Harris lost his apartment in August and has been living at a homeless encampment in front of City Hall, a few blocks away. Despite the many pandemic relief programs, Harris said he could not find enough help to stay sheltered. On the day he became homeless, an aid worker had promised to pick him up at noon, “and she just didn’t,” he said.

He had not yet voted, but said he planned to, in favor of Newsom, though the governor has “a couple rumors on him,” he said. Harris, sitting on a torn leather jacket with its stuffing popping out, said he is saving money to try to get into a room-and-board situation, but said unsheltered people could “use a little more help.”

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When will we know the results of the California recall election? Here is what we know

After weeks of campaigning and millions of dollars in advertising, the recall election is nearly over.

How is tonight likely to unfold? And when we will know a firm result?

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“We have to hear each other out for us to move forward as a state.” These San Bernardino voters worry about political polarization in California

Kathy Robbins, 67, sat in her car listening to R&B music — bopping her head to the beat and smoking a cigarette — while she waited for her aunt to cast her ballot.

Robbins, a longtime resident of San Bernardino, voted against recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom the moment she received her ballot last month.

“I feel he’s done a great job here in California,” she said. “What they’re saying about him I don’t believe, I think he’s a good governor.”

Robbins said she can understand why some people may have taken offense when he was telling Californians not to gather but was seen at a dinner party with friends.

“That wasn’t right,” she said. “But every governor we’ve had there’s always been some kind of problem with them.”

She praised Newsom for taking the pandemic seriously and issuing mandates to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

“He’s done his best to do whatever he can,” she said.

She said the only issue she finds troubling is the number of people who are homeless in California. She said while it’s an issue she suspects everyone can agree needs to be better addressed she hasn’t heard anyone come up with an answer for solving it completely.

“There’s homelessness issues in other states. Are they going to recall all those governors?” she questioned. “Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor and he didn’t do a great job either, and they didn’t recall him.”

She didn’t chose a candidate to replace Newsom should he be recalled. She said the recall was Republican-initiated and a waste of time and money. Voters will just have to come out again next year, she said.

“It’s ridiculousness,” she said.

Max Marban, 29, also doesn’t see the point of the recall election.

“We’re going to have to do this all over again,” he said.

Marban said he didn’t agree with proponents of the recall. He said few governors have ever faced a pandemic and he believes Newsom and his administration have done the best they can.

The political divisions that drove the recall have left both Robbins and Marban wondering about the future of California and the country as a whole.

“I feel like not long ago you could be Republican, you could be Democrat and you could argue your side and you would understand the other person,” Marban said. “But now I don’t really feel like we’re hearing each other out, you’re either too far left or too far right.”

He said that division is going to prevent the state from making substantial progress.

“There has to be a center point,” he said. “We have to hear each other out for us to move forward as a state.”

Robbins, the San Bernardino resident, said while she’s also worried about the division, she hopes that at the end of the day everyone has the capability to rally together even if they don’t have the same spiritual beliefs or political views. She said it’s up to the politicians to demonstrate that, especially in California.

“This is my state,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

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How to get live election results

Polls close at 8 p.m., and the first results could come in soon after. Follow along with The Times’ live recall election results page.

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Photos: Scenes of election day from around Southern California

Times photographers have been documenting election day in Los Angeles and Orange counties. From a baby in Westwood to ballot counting in Santa Ana, see the photos here.

A poll worker squirts hand sanitizer onto the hands of a voter
Poll worker Marcus Offutt, right, distributes hand sanitizer to a voter at Santa Monica College on Tuesday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

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Two East L.A. voters say Newsom could do more to help California but shouldn’t lose his job

After casting her ballot to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office, Jennifer Hackett and her daughters took a photo in front of an #LAVotes banner outside their polling place in East Los Angeles.

Hackett, 40, mulled over whether Newsom should remain in office. She reasoned that he’s doing his job, but said she’d like to see more opportunities for affordable housing and employment, especially after a pandemic that devastated the economy.

“I think he can become a good governor,” she said.

Hackett said she did not vote for a backup candidate. If Larry Elder wins, she hopes voters continue to apply the same pressure on him to do the job well.

Ricardo Nuñez, 21, voted for Newsom to keep his job, but said the recall was an effective way to shake up politicians who have grown too comfortable in their positions.

He appreciated Newsom’s efforts to help people during the pandemic, including Nuñez’s own family.

“He’s been more adamant about giving stimulus money to low-income people,” he said.

While he doesn’t believe Newsom should lose his job, Nuñez said he worries about the state of California, specifically gang violence and drug use. He believes politicians — including Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — aren’t doing enough to help future generations.

“I think California, at this rate, is going down the rabbit hole,” he said.

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Newsom gets votes, but rumors of election fraud swirl in Sylmar

Monica Jackson, 42, voted “no” and is confident that the recall attempt against Gov. Gavin Newsom will fail.

“He’s been helping people through pandemic relief,” she said. . “Most Republicans don’t care because they’ve got money and the issues that affect us don’t affect them.”

The UPS worker lives in Sylmar and said her work, which has been nonstop, has not been affected by the pandemic.

Edgar Montes, 38, would have preferred that California waited to vote Newsom out of office during the next election cycle. He voted against recalling the governor because he doesn’t believe that any of the candidates is up to par. A regular election would probably produce stronger candidates, he said.

Montes, an aerospace machinist, said he feared a takeover by Larry Elder.

“The last thing I want to do is to roll back everything we’ve accomplished,” he said. “We’re not the best state, but we’re not the worst.”

Eric Ventura, 24, voted to oust Newsom but was already questioning the integrity of the election. i He cited rumors that a Republican woman in West Hills had been turned away from the polls after being accused of already voting. As he spoke, others in line at the Sylmar Charter High School voting center nodded their heads in agreement.

Still, Ventura hopes that Newsom will be recalled. He voted for Elder, who he believes is the candidate that most likely stands a chance to win.

“I don’t think Gavin Newsom has handled this [pandemic] as well as he should have. I am not a believer in the overreaching of government,” Ventura said. “Our current government has strayed away from American values.”

The Sylmar resident would like to see California as a whole impose more conservative policies like Texas has throughout the pandemic. He doesn’t believe the shutdowns, for example, were the right decision.

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Video: Latino voters’ role in the California recall

Times columnist Patt Morrison and Gustavo Arellano, columnist and host of The Times podcast, discuss the Latino vote in California. Arellano has written that anger (or the lack of it) within the Latino community could cost Gov. Gavin Newsom his job. He has also called Larry Elder the most Latino candidate on the ballot.

L.A. Times Columnist Gustavo Arellano explores the issues that shape this controversial election.

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Newsom’s dinner at the French Laundry amid pandemic restrictions was too much for this Fresno voter

Jeff Kindler, a self-described working man and business owner, pulled up to his polling place in Fresno in a white work truck for his window repair company.

He wanted to cast his ballot to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom in person.

“I sure don’t like the mail-in voting thing. I’ve been doing it in person all my life,” he said, adding that voting is “one of the most important things you can do as an American.”

Kindler laughed about poll workers asking him to lick the envelope to seal his ballot.

“I’m not the brightest guy, but you’re worried about COVID and you have people licking envelopes?”

He said the recall election is a waste of money, and he placed the blame for it on Newsom’s decision to have dinner at an upscale restaurant in the heart of Napa Valley wine country as the pandemic raged late last year.

“If he had not gone to the French Laundry, this wouldn’t have happened. People saw that and they were pissed. Here he was dropping $15K on a 50-year-old’s birthday party and meantime I couldn’t go to my friend’s funeral,” he said.

Kindler isn’t passionate about any of the candidates running to replace Newsom. He just wants “someone who is going to run it better,” he said.

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Video: The rise of Larry Elder

Times columnists Erika Smith and Patt Morrison discuss Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder, who has become the GOP frontrunner in the race to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom (should Newsom be recalled).

Smith has written several columns about Elder, including one today about how he could usher in a new era of Black conservatism in California.

L.A. Times Columnist Erika D. Smith discusses the GOP candidate who wants to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom

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Fresno election worker: Some voters came spoiling for a fight over a “rigged” system.

The neighborhood of Fig Garden Loop in Fresno is known for big houses and yards full of fruit trees. Old money. Old farmers and ranchers. The polling place was at a business called Elite Venues.

After her shift, election supervisor Rebekah Doughty said her lip hurt from biting it so hard, as almost half the voters who came in were spoiling for a fight.

“They walked in just baiting: ‘How many dead people are voting here?’”

“They questioned the pens. They said the machines didn’t read our type of of pens.”

“They pointed to the Dominion machines and said they were the center of the fraud.”

Workers were trained to answer that there were multiple steps in place to ensure the safety of votes and they were welcome to come down to the counting facility and watch.

Doughty worked the primary and the general election, but said this was by far the most tense and problematic. She was glad she did it.

“This is going to give me goosebumps to explain it,” she said. “But I believe in the right to vote. I believe it should be accessible. If we lose the sanctity and trust of our democracy —which is voting — than we’re not a state of for or by the people.”

Doughty returned to Fresno from the Bay Area four years ago and she is worried about California. “We use to have the ability to have dialogue. I had Republican friends and we got into loving discussions with both sides willing to listen.“

“The last few years no one wants to listen. It’s all ‘the system is rigged’. They don’t trust the system, but they’re still participating,” she said.

She thinks the recall election was frivolous and a waste. “We don’t need to be spending money on a recall election a year from an election when there are so many others things: schools, hospitals, health care, social justice and, yes, pot holes! I’ve had to repair my car several times,” Doughty said.

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“The flu is a flu — it’s not going away”: This Sylmar resident says Newsom botched the pandemic response. He voted for Elder.

Joe Ponce, 60, hopes the recall will lead to change.

He voted to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom in part because of fraudulent unemployment claims paid out during the pandemic.

“I think he’s had plenty of time to correct it,” Ponce said. “I want people who are entitled to get it to get it, not the people in prison. I think Larry Elder brings a lot of credibility. I think he knows what’s going on.”

Ponce said the inconsistent mandates handed down by the governor during the pandemic were another factor that led him to vote for Elder.

“The flu is a flu — it’s not going away. We need common sense, not Newsom’s self-interest to go up to Washington. We need him to take care of business here,” he said.

As he waited to vote at Sylmar Charter High — where he graduated years ago — Ponce, now a city supervisor, said he was concerned about the future.

“We’re having an ideological civil war in this country. We need to come together — divided we fall. ... We need people to serve the people they were elected to serve, not themselves. I don’t care if they’re Democrat or Republican — they’re both doing it. It’s annoying.”

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Bakersfield voters divided over the future of California and the recall

California just has too many issues for Elsy Ruiz to stomach.

“Homelessness. Crime. I just don’t feel safe anymore,” said Ruiz, 46, of Bakersfield. “Gas is so high right now. It’s become choosing between a gallon of milk or gas.”

Ruiz has lived in Bakersfield since 1992 and said she’s seen on TV how things have changed for the worse in the state. She wouldn’t even consider visiting Los Angeles anymore — a developing nation is better off, she said.

The tipping point was how Gov. Gavin Newsom handled the pandemic. He ordered lockdowns and caused businesses to shut down, she said.

“That was the cherry on top,” she said.

It got so bad that she visited Texas and Arizona over the summer to see where she could move with her husband after her 16-year-old turns 18. On election day at the Norman Levan Center at Bakersfield College, Ruiz voted in favor of the recall. She believes GOP candidate and talk show host Larry Elder would help steer the Golden State in a better direction.

“Elder has a different perspective,” she said. “Let’s try something new.”

As temperatures climbed into the high 90s Tuesday afternoon, more people showed up inside the voting center.

Ethan Flores, 18, walked out with his family, proudly wearing his “I Voted” sticker. It was the first time he was eligible to vote, and he wanted his voice to count.

He voted against recalling Newsom, but selected Democrat Kevin Paffrath as his replacement just in case the governor is recalled. Flores said he doesn’t plan to ever leave the Golden State, so he wanted to find a candidate who would best deal with the homeless problem.

California “is headed in the right direction,” Flores said. “It’s not perfect but we’re pushing for change and better things.”

Bakersfield College student Marci Diaz, 21, had a similar mindset. She voted against the recall and opted out of choosing a candidate.

“I was debating whether I should because an article I read made it seem like it’d show that Democrats are weaker by selecting a plan B,” she said. She doesn’t love Newsom, she said, but ultimately sided with him because “it could be worse.”

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Video: What’s the history of recalls in California?

Staff writer Julia Wick joins columnist Patt Morrison to discuss the history of recalls in California. Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, became governor after the 2003 recall of Gray Davis. But what about before that?

L.A. Times metro reporter Julia Wick dives into recall elections past and present with columnist Patt Morrison.

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Los Angeles County voter sees recall as an ‘an astronomical waste of money’

The state of California’s soul weighs heavily on Jay Irene.

The 71-year-old registered independent was scouring out a gray Toyota Corolla in the parking lot of Montebello City Park with her friend Hector as the recall election loomed.

But it wasn’t her car. And it wasn’t his.

It belonged to an 85-year-old man who’s been living in it — for how long, Irene can only guess.

“We’re trying to help him,” she said, her voice muffled by her black face mask emblazoned with a silver paw. “I ran into him one evening. He’d been parked in the same place, evening after evening.”

To Irene, “anybody could do better at homelessness” than our current elected officials. “I don’t understand how anybody could go to sleep at night,” she said, knowing that so many people are living on the streets or in tents or in cars like the one she was cleaning out and spraying with insecticide.

“It breaks my heart,” the retired county library worker said.

But she voted for Newsom in the last election and she’s still against the recall, which she called “an astronomical waste of money…. Couldn’t they just have waited? What’s the rush?”

That, of course, was a rhetorical question. And she answered it herself. The state has become so polarized that there’s no way the Democratic Party could have warded the recall off, she said.

“The opposition was hellbent,” she said. “I just can’t see it being stopped. You get enough signatures and you can recall the dog catcher, for God’s sake.”

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“We don’t just blindly vote for Democrats.” These two East L.A. residents voted for Elder to replace Newsom

Maria Leon, who says liberal ideologies on issues like abortion and gay rights don’t represent her Christian values, sees hope in the recall election.

On Tuesday, she voted yes for Newsom’s removal at the Eastmont Community Center in East Los Angeles. She cast her ballot for Larry Elder to replace him, she said.

“We’re a nation under God, but now we’re throwing that out,” Leon said of Democrats.

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VIDEO | 00:31
Interview with East L.A. resident Osvaldo Alvarado

Osvaldo Alvarado, 43, encourages voters to make informed decisions.

Osvaldo Alvarado, 43, drove his parents to the Eastmont Community Center to cast their ballots and his own. Alvarado, a social worker, said he considers himself an independent. Leading up to the election, he teetered on whether to vote in favor of recalling Newsom because a new governor would only have a year in office and be chosen by a minority of voters.

But over the years, he said, Democrats like Newsom have held a majority. They’ve raised taxes on gas, but the roads still have cracks and potholes in them, he said. They’ve said they would address homelessness, but there is still a crisis, he added.

“I think it’s important for our community to realize that just because this is a highly Democratic area, that we don’t just blindly vote for Democrats because they’ve voted that way for such a long time. There are good Democrats and bad Democrats and by the same token, there are also good Republicans and bad Republicans,” he said. “That’s why we need to keep an open mind and really look into the issues more than just at face value and really critically question the things that they’re voting for.”

Ultimately, he felt that Newsom had overstepped his authority by enforcing pandemic lockdowns and, more recently, vaccination mandates.

“I feel that in some ways Newsom … didn’t take into consideration what people were saying,” Alvarado said after casting his vote for Larry Elder. “It’s a wakeup call.”

“The concept of having a candidate with 18 or 19% of the vote be the governor … fundamentally I have a problem with that,” Alvarado acknowledged. “But ultimately I thought OK, let’s give him an opportunity to see what he does. If people don’t like him, hey, in a year vote Democrat or however you want to at that point.”

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When do the polls close?

Election workers inspecting envelopes
Election worker Mario Mayorga inspects a ballot envelope at an L.A. County office in Pomona.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

If you haven’t cast your ballot in the recall, there’s still time.

Polls close in California at 8 p.m. As in other elections, if you’re in line at your polling place at 8 p.m., don’t go anywhere — you have the right to stay until you are able to vote.

You can also drop off your mail-in ballot at an official ballot drop box by 8 tonight, or in any U.S. Postal Service mailbox before the final collection time designated on the box. If using the mail, ballots must be postmarked by today, and your county registrar must receive your ballot by Sept. 21 to be counted.

Here’s where to find ballot boxes and polling places around Southern California.

California does allow same-day voter registration, so if you’re suddenly feeling inspired to participate in democracy, you still can. Here’s how to do same-day voter registration in California.

Once you cast a mail-in ballot, keep track of where it is and when it gets counted with the state’s Where’s My Ballot page.

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She caught the virus and believes masking shouldn’t be forced, so this Santa Ana voter prefers Elder over Newsom

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VIDEO | 00:39
Voter Melissa Garcia of Santa Ana on the recall

Melissa Garcia says she voted for Larry Elder because she likes his promises to lift pandemic restrictions.

The mask mandates imposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom motivated Melissa Garcia to vote “yes” on the recall Tuesday at the Jerome Center in Santa Ana.

The 40-year-old said she was infected with the novel coronavirus earlier this year and was knocked out for three weeks.

“I had the chills,” she said. “I had the body aches. Luckily I didn’t have to be hospitalized.”

But she said she believes people should have the option to choose what’s right for them.

Garcia, who said she and her husband are not vaccinated, voted for Larry Elder because she said she likes his promises to lift restrictions.

“He just wasn’t listening to us,” Garcia said of Newsom.

Garcia said she has friends who have succumbed to COVID-19 and has sung at some of their funerals. But she doesn’t understand “what’s happening to us here in California.”

“It feels like everyone is scared and overprotected,” she said. “Feels like there’s a lot of fear in a lot of Californians.”

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Newsom makes final campaign stop in San Francisco and calls out ‘Big Lie’

Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom campaigns in San Francisco against the effort to recall him on Sept. 14.
(Susanne Rust/Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Gavin Newsom gave an 11th-hour stump speech to rally supporters at a San Francisco union hall on Tuesday, encouraging them to reach out and get people to the polls to vote “no” on the effort to recall him.

“We can’t allow the economy, not just our public health, to be impacted by a wrong decision tonight at 8 o’clock,” he told the cheering crowd, with his wife and daughter standing by his side. “So what are we going to do? We will turn out and vote no on this recall.”

Newsom later addressed questions from reporters about claims that the election results could be falsified.

“This election fraud stuff is a crock; it’s shameful. And when I say that, I mean that,” he said. “Guys like me come and go. We’re a dime a dozen, politicians. Quite literally a dime a dozen. Its about our institutions. It’s about this nation. It’s about trust and confidence.”

He then called out politicians and other figures he blames for peddling the “Big Lie:”

“Larry Elder. The former president of the United States: Stop,” Newsom said. “All Republican backers in Congress and the Senate: Grow up. It’s about our country. I’m dumbfounded by this.”

Newsom also fought back suggestions that his COVID-19 policies could have contributed to the state’s economic losses and educational deficits.

“California has outperformed Florida, Texas, Indiana, the United States as a whole, in not only health outcomes but economic outcomes,” he said. “Our economy contracted at a more modest rate than those states.”

He then pointed to Republican governors, suggesting a reporter’s question was better suited for them.

“I’d ask Republicans, what is it about what we know works that offends them so much? When they claim that, on the other side, the issues of education and the economy — the things they are protecting — when in fact their same policies will impact their ability to produce the results they are trying to achieve?”

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Video: How does the recall election work?

Columnist Patt Morrison is joined by Jon Healey, senior editor for the Utility Journalism Team, to discuss how this recall election works: mail-in ballots, voting in person and what each question on the ballot means.

Senior Utility Team editor Jon Healey discusses recall processes with Columnist Patt Morrison.

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San Bernardino voter says he wants ‘Republican takeover’ to end

Terry Lee, 78, had one reason to vote against the recall today: to put an end to the “ridiculousness” of the Republican attempted takeover.

“This is all political, that’s all it is,” said Lee.

“I thought all this was going to end after Trump lost,” he said. “He argued voter fraud and [the votes] were recounted and recounted, and it change nothing. But that’s not good enough is it?”

He said given everything California has been going through from wildfires to the pandemic, Newsom has been trying to do his best. Lee said the political divide that is growing in the country is worrisome, but he believes the state will be OK in the future.

“California has always survived,” he said. “If there’s one thing I know about this country, and I’ve seen it many times before, is that if it’s a right thing then that will always prevail.”

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In Santa Clarita, conservative voters turn out to recall Newsom

Outside the William S. Hart Museum in Santa Clarita, some voters were hesitant to talk to the media about the recall election.

At least five people declined to be interviewed by The Times, citing mistrust in the newspaper. One woman pulled her husband away as he was answering questions.

Connor O’Sullivan, 25, said he was happy that Gov. Gavin Newsom was up for recall. The Massachusetts native voted Tuesday afternoon for Larry Elder, citing his conservative values.

“He stands for liberty and core American principles that I believe as well, that Newsom doesn’t,” he said.

O’Sullivan, an accountant, also strongly disagreed with church closures ordered by the governor during the pandemic.

“I think [Newsom] handled the pandemic terribly,” he said. “I think taxes are crazy. I just don’t think he’s competent to run a state.”

Rosa Frye-Boone, 73, felt similarly, saying Newsom was “a little too liberal for me.” She thinks mask mandates aren’t useful.

“This whole COVID-19 thing — I don’t think he handled it well,” Frye-Boone said. “I’m not happy that he put himself first and us [Republicans] second,” she said.

Frye-Boone has lived in Valencia for 50 years and believes California has “definitely” been better in the past. Newsom’s handling of the pandemic was a key factor in her yes vote, but ultimately, it was his values that tipped the scales.

“My husband and I both have weighed the issues, and [Newsom] just comes out neglecting us,” she said.

J.B., who asked to be identified by her initials and declined to give her age, is voting for the recall but recognizes that the past year has been hard for the governor.

“I’m going to grant that he had a hard job,” she said. “I don’t care how perfect you are — you might mess up big when you have this pandemic and all these other social problems at the same time. So I don’t blame him for all that.”

The issue, she said, is “mainly the corruption.”

She pointed to the families in Paradise who lost their homes in a 2018 wildfire, saying they should have been a top priority for Newsom.

Prior to casting her ballot, the San Fernando Valley resident was still making up her mind on who should replace Newsom, wavering between Republicans John Cox and Kevin Kiley. She wants someone who will listen to residents and advocate for their needs.

While she has never questioned the threat from the coronavirus, she wonders if it was the right call to keep businesses closed for as long as they were and how the lost income will affect people years from now.

“Ultimately to me, yes, freedom is important,” she said. “If we stay in a state of emergency forever, then that means we don’t rely on our Constitution as much. … How long are we going to stay in it?”

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Video: What’s at stake in California’s recall election?

L.A. Times Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers and columnist Patt Morrison discuss the issues in the recall campaign — how this election came about, how many of the issues are national, how Larry Elder became the face of the pro-recall movement, and how Gov. Gavin Newsom’s infamous French Laundry dinner may or may not factor into voters’ choices.

Columnist Patt Morrison hosts live coverage of California’s recall election from the L.A. Times newsroom

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Latinos, once again, show they aren’t a monolith at Norwalk voting center

At the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder’s office in Norwalk on Tuesday, young and first-time voters lined up or dropped off ballots alongside veteran ballot-casters.

Reporters clogged steps and walkways looking for a reaction.

Latinos, who make up 49% of the county’s population, are no monolith in terms of politics. Of those interviewed in Norwalk, several voted in favor of the recall and coalesced around conservative talk show host Larry Elder, while others praised Newsom.

Paramount resident Eduardo Borrego, 55, called himself a longtime Elder listener and fan.

“He’s a straight shooter, and I think he’s going to do what’s best for the state,” said Borrego, a registered Republican. “Newsom had a chance and failed.”

Borrego was critical of the pandemic shutdown of businesses and schools, with the latter “being terrible for our kids.”

He implored his fellow Latinos to not vote for a political party but rather the candidate that is going to do the most for them.

That message rang true for 45-year-old Whittier resident Yolanda Garcia. The court employee is also a registered Republican but says party has nothing to do with her “yes” vote.

“Vote, vote, vote,” Garcia said. “I’m voting yes because I’m the mother of a 12-year-old daughter, and I’ve seen how the school closures have disrupted her learning and development.”

Garcia also said Newsom has handled homelessness and housing affordability poorly.

Like many who favor the recall, she blames the governor for the rise in homelessness and the high cost of living in California. It wasn’t education, homelessness or the pandemic that led Garcia to cast her ballot for Elder, however.

“I want someone who is a believer in the First Amendment, someone who will stand up for the Constitution,” Garcia said. “I know Larry will.”

Conversely, 19-year-old Mount Saint Mary’s University student Rosselin Alvarez said she’s been able to live in California only because of Newsom’s help.

“He’s helped immigrants like me,” said the native of Nueva Santa Rosa, Guatemala.

Alvarez said state stimulus checks have proven invaluable, along with health insurance aid for immigrants provided during the pandemic.

She credited Newsom for “helping immigrants start and finish school.”

Alvarez said much of the criticism surrounding Newsom has been unjustly harsh. Like many Democrats, after voting “no” on the recall, Alvarez left the second question blank.

“He’s doing a pretty good job,” she said.

Downey resident Hannah Romero, 18, made her voting debut Tuesday.

The Downey Columbus Model Continuation High School student said civic pride led her to vote Tuesday. The Democratic voter said she was “no” on the recall and left the second question blank.

“This is a right and a privilege to vote and you have to use it,” Romero said. “There are others who can’t vote.”

Romero thanked the governor for quickly dispensing vaccines and encouraging masking, which she said has “saved lives.”

“This is a terrible disease that is killing many people, and [Newsom] has done his best to help,” Romero said.

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‘Not a good use of time’: West Hollywood voters cast their ballots

On Tuesday afternoon, more than 50 people waited in line to vote outside of Fiesta Hall in West Hollywood’s Plummer Park.

Men played dominoes at picnic tables. Others relaxed on beach towels and tanned in Speedos.

Greg Sannes, who has lived in West Hollywood for 23 years, was happy to wait the 35 minutes it took to vote. He said this recall election was “BS.”

Next year during the regularly scheduled governor’s election, he’ll evaluate the candidates on their merits. But this race feels unfair and a distraction, he said.

“In a year’s time, if they want to run a decent candidate, we can look at it and decide,” he said of Republicans.

For him, Newsom has been following the science on the coronavirus, pushing people to wear masks and get vaccinated.

“There are plenty of social problems, and he has made mistakes,” he said. “But this recall is not a good use of time. “

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Mask mandates, homelessness among the reasons Riverside County Republicans want Newsom out

At the Riverside County registrar of voters office, cars slowly made their way into the parking lot as employees in blue vests guided them through the voting center.

Drivers rolled up to a blue canopy, rolled down their windows and placed their ballots inside a blue bin held by a county employee.

Some voters walked in with filled-in mail-in ballots to deliver at the voting center. Others, such as 47-year-old Javier Cisneros, walked inside to vote in person.

Cisneros, a locksmith business owner, said he voted to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom mostly because of homelessness and coronavirus mandates he felt were overreaching and hypocritical.

After his business was forced to close for a month last year, he was upset to learn that the governor’s business, PlumpJack Group, which operates a dozen shops, wineries, restaurants and one hotel, had continued to operate.

Last July, the governor ordered 19 counties hit hardest by the coronavirus to scale back indoor and outdoor business operations.

Months later, he was seen maskless inside the upscale French Laundry restaurant for a birthday dinner.

“He’s a hypocrite,” Cisneros said.

Cisneros said he chose conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder to replace the governor because he thinks Elder would do a better job of tackling the problems that have consumed the state.

Nathaniel Baleanu, a 28-year-old Air Force veteran, shared Cisneros’ view of Newsom.

Baleanu said among the reasons he chose to recall Newsom was the governor’s mishandling of homelessness as well as his statements about forest management projects.

He said Newsom’s coronavirus mandates are overreaching and described his administration as tyrannical.

“You’re over here, and you say I can’t do this, but you’re over here doing it?” he said. “It’s like a parent, do as I say, not as I do. The kids are going to rebel.”

Baleanu said he voted for Elder to replace Newsom because “he’s the very opposite of everything I just said.”

Ana Vargas, 34, considered two issues: critical race theory and a law that gives the state health department the power to revoke medical exemptions for immunizations.

Vargas said she pulled her kids from school after the law went into effect in 2019. She voted “yes” on the recall.

“I’ve been fighting him on this,” she said. “We’ve been trying to recall him since then. ... This is the closest we’ve gotten.”

Vargas said she also didn’t agree with the governor’s mandates forcing many businesses to shut down during the pandemic.

She voted for Anthony Trimino, chief executive of Traffik, a marketing and advertising agency based in Irvine.

“Elder is not for medical freedom, so therefore I didn’t vote for him,” she said. "[Trimino] is Christ-centered and for medical freedom, and that’s huge for this state.”

If the recall doesn’t pass, Baleanu and Vargas said they will be back at the polls next year when Newsom’s term runs out.

“Anyone but Newsom,” Vargas said.

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Cox campaigns in Long Beach following Biden’s visit to stump for Newsom

 John Cox stands at a lectern with microphones on a sidewalk next to a beach
Republican recall candidate John Cox, a businessman from Ranch Santa Fe, made a campaign stop in Long Beach on Tuesday morning after President Biden stumped for Gov. Gavin Newsom in the same city Monday night.
(Faith E. Pinho/Los Angeles Times)

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox made a campaign stop in Long Beach on Tuesday morning “to make it clear that this race isn’t just about the national political scene ... this is about the quality of life for Californians.”

The location choice was a nod to Monday evening’s rally at Long Beach City College, where President Biden stumped for Gov. Gavin Newsom and painted the recall as an election with national ramifications. Cox touted his credentials as a businessman — and criticized “politicians and media celebrities,” who he said have run the state in recent years — as evidence that he is a candidate who can fix problems in the state.

As Cox spoke, a man driving by in his car told him, “You’ve got my vote!” Another person biking on the beach boardwalk later called out, “Vote for Larry Elder!”

Cox acknowledged that the front-runner had “shaken up the race quite a bit.” With a double-digit lead over any other candidate, Elder far outpaces Cox, who is backed by 4% of likely voters, according to the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll cosponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

Cox said he’s hoping the polls are wrong, and repeated his stance that undecided voters will decide the election.

“The important thing is that we vote yes on the recall ... doesn’t matter if people select Larry or myself,” Cox said. “I’m hoping I have a chance, but yeah, the more important thing is to vote yes on the recall.”

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Santa Ana mother and son are both tired of wearing masks — but they voted differently in the recall election

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VIDEO | 00:45
Interview with California voter Louie Boucher

Louie Boucher talks from Santa Ana about his motivation for voting in the California recall election.

Louie Boucher and his mother, Eliza Boucher, are weary of the pandemic and what it’s brought: business closures, social distancing and especially masks.

But mother and son don’t agree on whether recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom is the answer.

Minutes after casting her “yes” vote to recall Newsom on Tuesday morning at the Jerome Center in Santa Ana, Eliza Boucher said she isn’t very political but wants to return to what life was like before the pandemic.

“I want a change,” said Boucher, 50. “I’m tired of all the closings and wearing the masks. I want the freedom we had before.”

She said she doesn’t know much about Larry Elder but voted for him because her husband advised it.

“Maybe you should think of voting for yourself,” said Louie Boucher, 19.

His mother smiled and held on to his arm.

“He has his own ideas,” she said.

Louie Boucher, a Santa Ana College sophomore majoring in chemistry, said he dislikes wearing masks too but does it because he wants to keep himself and others safe.

He voted against the recall because he believes Newsom has done his best to “try to protect the people in this state.”

Boucher said his grandmother contracted COVID-19 and nearly died.

“It’s because people are not doing the most they can for the community,” he said. “Without the mask mandates, we’re just going to go back to square one.”

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Caitlyn Jenner casts her ballot in Beverly Hills

As people lined up to vote in the recall election at Beverly Hills City Hall on Tuesday, a celebrity candidate arrived with a small entourage and a ballot in her hand.

After consulting with a poll worker, Caitlyn Jenner disposed of the ballot so she could vote in person.

When it was all over, Jenner threw her arms in the air, evoking the moment when she won the 1976 Olympic decathlon.

As the reality television star and most prominent transgender political candidate in history weaved her way to the door, voters pulled her aside to ask for selfies and tell her they loved her.

Outside City Hall, the Republican candidate told the assembled media that if Gov. Gavin Newsom prevailed today, it would be the end of the state as she knew it.

Reporters repeatedly asked her about GOP front-runner Larry Elder’s claims of fraud in the run-up to the vote.

Jenner sidestepped questions about whether that was appropriate. She said she was curious about what would happen in the election and that anyone was better than Newsom.

“Larry Elder is running his campaign the way Larry Elder is running his campaign,” she said.

“I believe in the system. I believe in the state of California. I believe in our electoral system. I think it’s important that citizens of this state get together and make sure there’s integrity in our voting laws.”

Before walking away, Jenner spoke with a transgender woman who told Jenner she was a Democrat and didn’t vote for the candidate but that it was great to see her in the race.

Jenner had provided visibility for transgender people, the woman said, and would help break down barriers.

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VIDEO | 02:17
Caitlyn Jenner votes in recall election, addresses distrust in election process

Caitlyn Jenner votes in the recall election at Beverly Hills City Hall, and answers questions about Larry Elder’s comments on distrusting the results.

Jason Greene, who was waiting for his friend to cast his ballot, said he felt great about voting to recall Newsom and install Larry Elder.

Statewide policies have been decided on what’s politically expedient and not what’s best for voters, he said.

“I don’t like how the state is being run,” he said. “Elder has more of a practical point of view.”

Another voter named Ashley said she voted “yes” on the recall because she opposed mask mandates for her 2-year-old son’s mostly outdoor school.

Ashley didn’t want her last name published because she didn’t “want to get shamed at my kid’s liberal school.”

She voted for Elder because she disagreed with Newsom’s policies about schooling during the pandemic and because of the increase in homelessness.

“Things need to change,” she said.

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Republican recall candidate Kevin Kiley casts his ballot in Roseville

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) votes in Roseville on Sept. 14.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) votes in Roseville on Tuesday.
(Melody Gutierrez / Los Angeles Times)

Recall candidate and state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (D-Rocklin) voted Tuesday, with a dozen supporters and campaign staff on hand as he brought his ballot into a mostly empty polling site at St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in Roseville.

The state lawmaker said he is feeling optimistic, despite recent polling suggesting Gov. Gavin Newsom has a sizable lead in halting the recall effort. Kiley said, “Gavin Newsom has trotted out Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Barack Obama” and others, which he called a “sign of desperation.”

“At the end of the day, despite every attempt by our corrupt political class to take power away from the people, the people are still sovereign in this state and the idea of ‘we the people’ still means something,” Kiley said.

Asked what his next step is should the recall fail, Kiley said he wasn’t thinking that far ahead.

“I’m not making any decisions about even what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow morning,” Kiley said. “We have been focused like a laser on getting out every vote in favor of the recall.”

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LA Times Today: The Times’ editorial board recommendation — No on Newsom recall, Faulconer on Question 2

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VIDEO | 07:51
LA Times Today: L.A. Times’ editorial board recommendation: No on Newsom recall, Faulconer on Question 2

Watch L.A. Times Today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live stream on the Spectrum News App. Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on channel 99.

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LA Times Today: Will ‘mad moms’ and mask mandates determine Newsom’s fate?

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VIDEO | 05:24
LA Times Today: Will ‘mad moms’ and mask mandates determine Newsom’s fate?

Watch L.A. Times Today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live stream on the Spectrum News App. Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on channel 99.

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Anti-recall voters praise Gov. Newsom’s handling of the pandemic

There was no waiting for the steady stream of voters who filed into the Robinson Park Recreation Center tucked away in a quiet pocket of northwest Pasadena in the cool morning air on Tuesday.

Voters placidly slathered on hand sanitizer, craned their necks forward for a temperature check and pecked at buttons on electronic voting machines that some said they were using for the first time.

Wanda James, a retired teacher in her 80s, voted to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office — equating the alternative to an unwanted intrusion of “Trumpism in disguise” into the state’s largely blue backyard.

Larry Elder — the Republican front-runner — “is absolutely the wrong person to ever be governor of anything,” said James, wearing purple sunglasses adorned with rhinestones and a face mask bearing an image of the iconic World War II factory worker Rosie the Riveter.

The area resident said she used to listen to Elder on the radio because she felt it was vital to know the “opposite point of view.”

Leaning on her blue-and-white cane, she added, “You need to know what the crazies are talking about.”

She lauded Newsom’s handling of the pandemic, crediting him for staying calm and acting in accordance with science.

“I was just really proud of the way he and [Los Angeles] Mayor [Eric] Garcetti handled themselves during that whole period of time,” she said. “And I had the feeling that he did not let politics enter into his decisions — until this recall business got really serious.”

However, James was less than confident about the election’s outcome. She was aware of Newsom’s much-publicized French Laundry faux pas, when he dined at the tony restaurant with several other families in violation of COVID-19 protocols. It was an incident she chalked up to inconsequential “dirt” dug up by critics.

Joshua Bettea, a 62-year-old Santa Clarita resident who also voted to keep Newsom in office, said installing a Republican governor would “backfire” in the heavily Democratic state.

“We elected this governor here. Democracy has to prevail,” said Bettea, who works in the electrical industry and wore an army-green hat with an American flag.

Newsom, he said, handled the pandemic well, putting California residents’ well-being over “worshipping the mighty dollar” by shutting down businesses.

Even if If Newsom is replaced by a Republican challenger, those on the other side of the political spectrum will ultimately persevere, he said — just as they did during Donald Trump’s presidency.

“There’s always a new day,” he said.

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‘This was just shenanigans’: At Crenshaw High, uninspired voters cast their ballots

Voting on whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom got off to a slow but orderly start Tuesday morning at Crenshaw High School.

Masked students were dropped off by parents at the front door as voters followed a series of signs guiding them to a parking lot, then to the auditorium.

Many came in on their way to work, on a break from work or after driving their children to school. Voting was just another task, and they were eager to get it over with.

Sister and brother Nnedinma, 28, and Obinna Ofoha, 24, arrived early, dressed casually in sweats and slides. They were both uninspired but felt obligated to vote.

“I honestly don’t know anything about politics. I’m pretty anti-politics, but I’m here voting because my family is making me vote,” Obinna said.

His sister Nnedinma forced him out of bed, he said, with one instruction: “Vote no on the recall.”

“The recall doesn’t make sense, but I don’t take any election lightly,” Nnedinma said.

With their civic duty fulfilled, social worker Nnedinma was eager to start her workday at home. Obinna, a student, had plans to watch television.

A sense of obligation, frustration with the process and fear of “ridiculous” recall candidates were common themes at Crenshaw.

“This was just shenanigans,” said 65-year-old Abe Jacques before getting into his car.

“This isn’t the way to change,” agreed Maya Estephanos, a 36-year-old actress and choreographer who moved to Los Angeles 12 years ago from Atlanta.

Estephanos wasn’t in California for the last recall. She said she’s shocked by the process and skeptical of it.

“I think it’s set up to prey on people who are busy,” she said.

“I feel like this was unnecessary, but I’m happy I came out and let my voice be heard,” said chef Nneka Nyamekye, who stopped by the polling place before making a food delivery.

Nyamekye, a 45-year-old mother of three boys, said she was most concerned about education and COVID’s impact on California. She didn’t think Newsom was great on either issue but had zero confidence in the recall candidates, especially front-runner Larry Elder, who grew up in South L.A.

“He’s not going to do anything for California,” said Nyamekye. “I’ll take the lesser of two evils.”

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For this Santa Ana voter, protecting her family from COVID-19 is top of mind

As Santana Salas cast her ballot against recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday morning at Jerome Center in Santa Ana, she thought about her unvaccinated 10-year-old sister, Alina.

“I’m thinking about her safety — the safety of kids who aren’t eligible for vaccination,” Salas said. “She’s the only one in our family who isn’t vaccinated right now. The pandemic is still going strong. Other states don’t have mask mandates at schools, and you can see the rise in the virus, especially in kids.”

Friends and family members in Santa Ana and Mexico have been hit hard by the virus, she said.

For Salas, safety during a pandemic is what this election is ultimately about. She said she didn’t want California to end up with a governor who would lift mask directives.

Salas, who graduated with a psychology degree from Cal State Fullerton a few months ago, lives with her parents and is worried about her family’s health and safety. She said Newsom has done his best, given the circumstances.

“In Florida, the cases keep going up, and they have no mask mandate,” she said. “And here, the cases aren’t as bad.”

Salas said she believes California is heading in the right direction “as long as we keep everyone safe.”

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The California recall election is one piece of a much larger political battle

Remember as the votes start to be counted that unlike the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis, the effort to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom has felt more like an extension of national political themes than just what’s happening in California.

The governor and his supporters sought to tie the effort to supporters of former President Trump from their very first response to the recall petition.

Supporters, meanwhile, originally invoked immigration issues — influenced by the state, yes, but largely a national policy — as grounds to remove Newsom. And both sides have sought to weaponize the COVID-19 crisis, especially when it comes to vaccinations and vaccine mandates. Newsom has decried conspiracy theories while pro-recall Republicans have sought to frame the vaccine debate as one of government overreach and individual freedom.

Press releases and social media posts have consistently played up other national themes, including climate change and criminal justice. Compare that with 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Davis sparred over California-specific issues such as vehicle license fees and the taxes or spending cuts needed to erase a historic state budget deficit.

And Schwarzenegger, running in an era where he needed a centrist coalition for the recall to succeed, studiously avoided the kinds of national issues that Elder, the leading GOP voice this time around, has campaigned on — a list including President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and the origins of the coronavirus.

As The Times reported Sunday, the recall election won’t put an end to the long political battle it’s sparked and serves now as a preview of state and congressional races next year.

Explore this and other takeaways as California begins to vote from Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers here.

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In-person voters trickle in to cast their ballots at Pasadena City College

A steady trickle of voters arrived at Pasadena City College on Tuesday morning to vote in person or drop off ballots for the gubernatorial recall election.

Several said they were in favor of recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom and wanted conservative talk show host Larry Elder to replace him. Others left the second question blank.

For Pasadena homemaker Mary Forrest, 32, her vote Tuesday to oust Newsom was a matter of “patriotic duty.”

She blames the governor for “rampant homelessness, failing schools and the shutting down of businesses.”

“When you look around the state of California, it’s just sad, really,” said Forrest, a mother of three with another on the way. “I look at my children. There’s more emphasis on homeless people than there is on education of our children. That needs to change.”

Forrest did not say which candidate she chose to replace Newsom and pushed back on the idea that the recall election was a partisan matter.

“I’m not even Republican,” said Forrest, a libertarian. “Today is about Californians rising up and doing what’s best for the state.”

Pasadena resident Bobby Charlie, 33, said he voted for recalling Newsom and for Elder as Newsom’s replacement.

He was worried about issues with mail-in ballots, which led him to vote in person. He questioned why voters didn’t have to show identification and wondered about other possible irregularities.

“Larry understands that California needs to get back to business,” said Charlie, a Republican. “But my vote and why I’m here is more about Newsom. There can’t be two sets of rules for him and for everyone else.”

Charlie said his brother’s brewery recently closed due to heavy financial losses sustained during COVID-19 lockdowns.

“Newsom’s winery stayed opened, but regular people had to close their businesses,” Charlie said. “That’s a double standard.”

Marsha M., a Republican who asked that her last name not be used, also said potential voter fraud was the reason she voted in person.

The Pasadena resident was dressed in an American flag blouse and proudly wore her “I voted” sticker. She voted yes on the recall and picked Elder as her candidate.

She said last year’s “election debacle,” which she has grudgingly put behind her, led her to mistrust voting by mail.

She felt the Los Angeles Times has been unfair to Elder, noting that the newspaper had not reviewed his books when they were published.

“The state is collapsing all around us, and we’re just fine voting for the same people over and over. Does that make any sense?” she asked.

She said she had not been vaccinated against COVID-19. She said she contracted the disease in February 2020 and recovered fine, so she believed the vaccine was not necessary for her.

“It’s the flu,” she said. “I’m in my 60s, and I recovered quickly. We need to stop living in fear.”

A few people voting at Pasadena City College on Tuesday were against the recall, among them Pasadena resident Keith Ashton.

Ashton, 60, a Democrat, said he left the second question blank.

“I’m not a defender of Newsom, but I think he’s done OK or as best as you can during a pandemic,” Ashton said. “He protected the state’s population with masks and shutdowns, and it hurt, but it was the right thing to do.”

Ashton did not like the $267-million recall price tag or that those advocating Newsom’s recall couldn’t wait until the 2022 election to remove him.

“A lot of this doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “This is a big waste of money and time.”

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Metro L.A. offers free bus, train and bike rides to recall election voting centers

Metro L.A. is offering free rides to polling locations Tuesday for voters who want to cast their ballots in person for the California gubernatorial recall election.

A man sits in a nearly empty train car on the Metro Blue Line
A man sits in a nearly empty Metro train car. On Tuesday, the transportation agency is offering free rides to the polls.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

While Metro bus fares have already been waived amid the coronavirus pandemic, fees for train rides will be waived from midnight until 11:50 p.m. Metro’s Bike Share system fees also will be waived, but only for the first 30 minutes, followed by a cost of $1.75 per half-hour, officials said.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works County Shuttles, Montebello Bus Lines, Glendora Transportation Division and Pasadena Transit also are offering free rides to polling locations.

Voting centers across California will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday for those looking to cast in-person ballots.

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How to vote today in Southern California

Los Angeles County
Drop off: There are more than 400 ballot drop-off boxes throughout Los Angeles County — open now through 8 p.m. Sept. 14. To find a ballot box near you, go to the L.A. County registrar website.
In person: If you’d prefer to cast your ballot in person, you can visit one of the county’s voting centers. (Unfortunately for Dodgers fans, there won’t be a voting location at the stadium this year. There’s a drop box near the Rose Bowl, though.) In-person locations have varying days and hours of operation. You can vote in person now at the county’s registrar headquarters — Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Other voting centers begin opening Sept. 4.

Orange County
Drop off: Drop-off locations are throughout the county. Boxes are available 24/7 until Sept. 14, when they close at 8 p.m.
In person: The county has reduced the number of voting centers and their early-voting hours because this is not a regularly scheduled election. In-person voting locations can be found on the Orange County registrar website. You can cast your ballot in person Sept. 4-10 at select locations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closer to the election, from Sept. 11-13, centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. And on the day of the election, voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Riverside County
Drop off: Drop-box hours vary depending on location. To find the closest box to you and verify its hours, go to the Riverside County registrar’s website.
In person: There are a total of 145 in-person voting locations throughout Riverside County. All locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 11-13 and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the day of the election. Other early-voting options include the registrar’s office and malls in Riverside, Temecula and Palm Desert.

San Bernardino County
Drop off: The county has several drop-off locations open 24/7 (until polls close at 8 p.m. Sept. 14, election day).
In person: Early voting began Aug. 2 at the county’s registrar office, where you can cast your ballot until 8 p.m. Sept. 14. Other in-person voting centers and their hours of operation can be found here.

Ventura County
Drop off: Boxes throughout the county are open 24/7; locations can be found here.
In person: Ventura County’s in-person voting locations will be open Sept. 11-13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. And on election day, Sept. 14, the polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Locations are subject to change, and it’s recommended you check the website before visiting one of the centers.

Santa Barbara County
Drop off: All boxes are open 24/7 (with the exception of the box located in MacKenzie Park) until 8 p.m. on the day of the election. You can drive up to some of the boxes; others you’ll have to walk your ballot to the box. To find the nearest box to you, click here.
In person: Not all residents of Santa Barbara County are able to vote in person due to a limited number of polling places. If you live in an area without a polling place, you must vote by mail. To find out if you have a polling place near you, visit the Santa Barbara County registrar’s website.

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Did you have issues voting in person for the California recall election?

The Times wants to hear about your experience voting in-person at an L.A. County vote center. Share your thoughts below.

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Newsom vs. Elder and the battle for California

There are 46 candidates running in the California recall election. But only two names really matter, according to multiple polls.

Gov. Gavin Newsom must convince voters not to oust him from office. And Larry Elder appears to be far outdistancing the GOP field to replace Newsom if he is recalled.

Newsom is a liberal who rose through San Francisco politics. Elder grew up in South L.A. and has been an outspoken conservative commentator for decades.

Their campaigns have come to feed off each other’s. Here is a the tale of the tape: Newsom vs. Elder.

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Opinion: Win or lose, Larry Elder has emerged as a political star

Voters today will decide whether a Black conservative named Larry Elder will become California’s next governor — an all-but-certain turn of events if Gavin Newsom gets recalled.

To go from struggling to find Black Republicans willing to run for minor offices to the possibility of having one lead the executive branch in Sacramento has been, in a word that Corrin Rankin repeats often, “surprising.”

“Win or lose, it has gotten people to talk about what Black conservatism looks like,” said Rankin, who is vice chair of the Central Valley region for the California Republican Party and is Black. “And some people will say, yes, this is what it should look like. And some people will say, no, this is not what it should look like. But at the end of the day, we’re having that conversation now. We weren’t last year.”

Jonathan Madison, a Black man and vice chair of the Bay Area region for the California GOP, put it more bluntly:

“I think it potentially paves the way for a number of other conservatives, particularly minorities, African Americans, to run for bigger office,” he said, “to dream big, to kind of pave the way for us to really have a voice.”

Times columnist Erika Smith explores this topic. Read here>>

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Biden, Democrats see huge national stakes in recall election outcome

The Biden administration has a vested interest in the California recall election’s outcome. A Gov. Gavin Newsom victory Tuesday could lift Democrats after a politically challenging several weeks for the president, whose popularity has taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s resurgence and the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. The election of a Republican governor could be devastating to Democrats nationwide, with the possibility that the new governor would appoint a replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) should she retire and leave an open seat in the Senate.

On Monday, the president and governor pointedly attacked the recall election as an effort led by Republicans supporting former President Trump. Biden likened conservative talk show host Larry Elder, the leading Republican candidate in the race, to Trump and told the audience “there’s too much at stake” to let him become governor.

“We may have defeated Donald Trump, but we have not defeated Trumpism,” Newsom said to the crowd before Biden took the stage. “Trumpism is still on the ballot in California and that’s why it’s so important, not just for all of us here 40 million Americans strong in the nation’s largest and most populous state, but also to send a statement, all across the United States of America, that Trumpism has no place here, and Trumpism will be defeated all across the United States of America, because we’re better than that.”

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Elder’s path diverges from Schwarzenegger’s

It’s hard to ignore just how different a road has been traveled by the two GOP media celebrities, both political neophytes when they decided to run in California recall elections.

The winning campaign run by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003 sought support from a fairly broad swath of the state’s electorate, while largely convincing his Republican base that electability was the most important quality and that he was the only GOP candidate who possessed it. State GOP leaders embraced Schwarzenegger’s view and the promise he made in TV ads to be “the people’s governor.”

Larry Elder, whose campaign reflects the political polarization of the moment, has largely seemed interested only in Republican voters. He has called Newsom a “tyrant” and in one video on his campaign website said that being elected as governor would mean “that at least for a while, people are going to have to listen to me” on issues including family values, schools and the perils of “the welfare state.”

And when it came to an endorsement this time around, California Republican Party leaders chose to stay out of it, stepping aside as Elder’s candidacy caught fire with GOP voters.

Either as governor-elect or the top vote-getter in the replacement election, Elder has emerged as the de facto leader of California Republicans, posing at least an ideological challenge to the last Republican to hold the office — one who famously told the party faithful in 2007 that they were “dying at the box office” with positions that didn’t appeal to most of the state’s voters.

All of which begs the question: Even though Schwarzenegger has largely stayed out of the current recall, are the two men on an eventual collision course over the future of the Republican Party?

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The Democrats — and turnout — are key in recall election