Anatomy Of A Recall

California Politics, Governor Race, Political, Sacramento
When all the hype and hoopla surrounding the California recall election draws to a close on Oct. 7, voters will face two simple questions: whether or not to oust Gov. Gray Davis and who should replace him if he is tossed out.

The recall ballot will have two parts: The first section will ask people to vote yes or no on whether to recall Davis and the second will provide a list of candidates to choose from in the event he is recalled.

Davis will be replaced as governor if he gets less than 50 percent on the first question; the new governor would then be the candidate who receives the most votes on the second question.

With as many as 193 challengers expected on the ballot, and no minimum percentage required to be declared the winner, Davis' replacement could need only a small fraction of the vote to become governor.

According to California law, Davis' name will not be among the candidates listed in the election's second phase. People voting to keep Davis still will be able to cast a vote for a potential successor.

The ballot itself, with nearly 200 candidates, could be a real page-turner. On Monday, the secretary of state held a random drawing to determine the order in which candidates' names will appear.

Getting on the ballot to challenge Davis was easy enough: candidates had to pay a $3,500 filing fee and submit the signatures of 65 registered California voters. A candidate could avoid paying the fee by submitting 10,000 signatures.

The final list of names certified for the ballot is due to be released Wednesday.

To get a recall on the ballot, California requires signatures from just 12 percent of the total number of voters in the previous gubernatorial election — in this case, 897,158. Recall organizers easily exceeded those numbers, with a total of 1.3 million valid petition signatures, according to the California Secretary of State's office.

Although he was elected to his first term in 1998 by a landslide, Davis' standing slipped during California's energy crisis of 2000-01. A budget crisis further eroded his popularity and he won re-election by just 5 points in November over GOP nominee Bill Simon.

If the recall campaign succeeds, Davis would be only the nation's second governor to be recalled; the other was North Dakota's Lynn Frazier, ousted in 1921.

The special election is expected to cost California taxpayers $67 million.