CVF in the News

By Louis Baudoin-Laarman, AFP, September 17, 2021

Allegations of fraud in California's gubernatorial recall election spread online after Democrat Gavin Newsom survived the vote aimed at unseating him. But claims that the state refused to count in-person votes, that some polling stations told 70 percent of voters they had already cast their ballots, or that the result was determined too rapidly, are false.

Donald Trump and Republican contender Larry Elder set the stage for such claims, warning of foul play before Election Day -- a tactic employed by the now former US president in 2020.

Trump claimed in a statement that "millions and millions" of mail-in ballots would lead to a "giant Election Scam," while Elder said on the campaign trail that he was ready to sue should any "shenanigans" appear, and urged his supporters to report "anything suspicious."

Elder conceded defeat on September 14, but questions over the legitimacy of the vote have persisted. Below, AFP Fact Check examines three such claims.

By Sonseeahray Tonsall, Jordan Radach, Fox 40, September 16, 2021

Leading up to Tuesday’s trip to the polls, there was a lot of fear on both sides of the recall issue about whether or not voters really understood the choice they were being asked to make.

President and founder of the California Voter Foundation, Kim Alexander, spoke with FOX40 weeks before the election and shared concerns that voters may be confused by all the different ballot layouts.

Alexander joined FOX40’s Sonseeharay Tonsall following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s defeat of the recall effort about the biggest lessons learned from this election.

“We had 3,200 voting sites across the state operating in California,” Alexander said. “And really, I can count in single digits the number of incidents that I heard about. And I think that the lesson I took away from that is by mailing everybody a ballot and giving them plenty of time to turn it in by mail or at drop-off locations prior to election day we really preload the voting process to alleviate pressure on voting sites on election day.”

 

By Angelo Fichera, AP News, September 15, 2021

Excerpts:

CLAIM: Officials counted “9 million mail in ballots” in an hour in the California gubernatorial recall election, whereas it took some states weeks to tabulate results in the 2020 presidential election.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Missing context. California’s recall election results were tabulated quickly in part because election officials were able to process mail-in ballots prior to Election Day. While The Associated Press and others have called the election, official counting continues.

THE FACTS: The AP declared Tuesday night that Gov. Gavin Newsom had defeated a GOP-led recall effort, based on the initial results of votes cast. In a tweet shared on Instagram, a conservative writer questioned the state’s quick tabulation of millions of votes, suggesting something was suspicious.

By AS English, September 15, 2021

Excerpt:

California voting system strongest in the nation

Before Tuesday's election the top candidate to replace Governor Newsom if the recall had succeeded declined to say whether he would accept the results. Larry Elder was following former President Trump's playbook in his campaign putting out false claims of voter fraud before ballots were even cast.

However in his concession speech he made no mention of any "shenanigans". 

According to Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, “California’s voting system standards and testing requirements are the strongest in the nation.” She notes that the state requires voter-verified paper ballots and post-election audits. (Full Story)

By Alexis Madrigal, KQED, September 15, 2021

Excerpt:

The petition to recall Governor Gavin Newsom began in February of last year. Now, more than a year and a half later, California voters decided against the effort. On the day after the final ballots were cast, we analyze the election results and discuss what they tell us about the future of Gavin Newsom, the state’s Republican party, California’s pandemic response and more.

Guests:

Mark DiCamillo, director, Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies (IGS) Poll

David Chiu, Assemblymember District 17, California State Assembly

Mike Madrid, co-founder, The Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans seeking to prevent the re-election of former President Donald Trump. He is also a political consultant and partner with GrassrootsLab.

Kim Alexander, president and founder, California Voter Foundation

By Elise Viebeck and Tom Hamburger, Washington Post, September 14, 2021

Excerpt:

Former president Donald Trump’s false voter fraud claims found new life in California’s biggest election this year.

The top Republican seeking to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in Tuesday’s recall declined before the election to say whether he could accept the results. A website affiliated with his campaign invites visitors to “sign a petition to stop the fraud of the California recall election.” And a previous version of the site — published before the election took place — blamed voter fraud for Newsom being “reinstated” as governor.

By Kim Alexander and Micheal Alvarez, Sacramento Bee Opinion September 14, 2021

(online at https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/article254235563.html, photo credit Lezlie Sterling, Sacramento Bee)

Sacramento Bee image of vote centerThere is a growing chorus claiming that California’s recall election is not secure.

Some claims come from people providing no evidence to back them up and no substantiation of fraud. Some come from people who question aspects of California’s election administration practices that they don’t understand (like the use of accessibility holes by some counties in ballot return envelopes to help guide low-vision voters to the signature box).

By Chris Nichols, Capital Public Radio, September 13, 2021

Excerpt:

The eyes of the nation will be on California this week as voters decide whether to retain or remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in Tuesday’s recall election.

But once the final ballots are mailed, dropped off or cast in-person, many will ask: ‘How soon will the results come in?’ And ‘when will we know the outcome?’

Election experts say it’s impossible to predict exactly when the race will be decided. If it’s a landslide, we might know within hours of polls closing. But a close contest could mean weeks of hand-wringing as late arriving mail ballots are counted before a winner is declared. 

“If it’s very close,” said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, “then you’re going to have to wait possibly all the way until the end of the certification period which is 30 days after election day.”

By Lara Korte, Sacramento Bee, September 11, 2021

Excerpt:

With less than a week to go until the California recall election, some Republicans are falsely claiming that votes are rigged in favor of Democrats and suggesting, without evidence, that Gov. Gavin Newsom can only win with fraudulent votes.

The claims are unsubstantiated, and echo similar false messages promoted by Republicans last year following the election of President Joe Biden.

Larry Elder, the top-polling Republican candidate seeking to replace Newsom, is already preparing to challenge the recall results if Newsom survives.

Elder told reporters in Los Angeles on Wednesday that he believes “there might very well be shenanigans” in the recall election, but that he expects to win anyway because “so many Californians are angry about what’s going on,” according to CNN.

By Jeremy B. White, Politico, September 9, 2021

Excerpt:

Donald Trump opened his presidency by falsely claiming massive voter fraud in California. Now he’s returned to the subject, raising the prospect that the outcome of next week’s recall election could follow the same divisive path as last year’s presidential election.

Trump, who told Newsmax this week that the election to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is “probably rigged,” is the most prominent in a string of conservatives who have cast evidence-free aspersions on the upcoming vote.

With Republican figures simultaneously telling voters that Newsom’s defeat is inevitable and cautioning that Democrats will try to manipulate the outcome — and polls showing Newsom is likely to survive — it’s a combustible combination. It also might be a preview of what’s in store for the 2022 midterm elections in the wake of Trump’s barrage of false claims about the integrity of election results.

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