For weeks, legal scholars have debated whether the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom could be found unconstitutional if Newsom failed to realize a “no recall” majority of the ballots cast and was ousted by a candidate who received fewer votes than he did.
Although it’s impossible to predict how courts will rule, many experts say the current recall process has long survived legal challenges, and probably would again, even if a fringe candidate won on Sept. 14 and became governor with a minority of overall votes.
That view is based on court decisions on election law, especially rulings stemming from the recall election of Gov. Gray Davis, when voters removed Davis in 2003 and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a popular actor who went on to win reelection.
In that case, more people voted for Schwarzenegger than Davis so the candidate with the most votes won. Even so, California’s recall scheme permits a candidate with fewer votes to prevail over an incumbent, as was demonstrated by the state’s last successful recall of an elected legislator.
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