In voters’ hands: People cast their ballots in recall election |

In voters’ hands: People cast their ballots in recall election

Voters cast their ballots in person at the Gold Miners Inn vote center in California’s gubernatorial recall election. Ballots were collected up until 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Photo: Elias Funez

Voters streamed into the Eric Rood Administrative Center Tuesday morning to cast their ballots in the election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Efforts to replace Newsom, who took office in January 2019, began to crystallize in April after his adversaries successfully collected the 1.5 million signatures required by the state to begin the recall process.


Visit Newsom fights off recall; Measure T headed to victory to see the latest election results

Five months and $276 million tax dollars later, the election is giving those discontent with the state’s current leadership a chance to choose someone else to represent their values as they pertain to public health, education and the environment.

Jason Markowitch of Cascade Shores showed up to vote at the government center with one of his 5-year-old twins in tow.

“Too many politicians are hypocritical,” Markowitch said. “It’s ‘do what they say, not what they do.’”

Grass Valley’s Kloe Ramirez drops her ballot in the electronic ballot counter Tuesday at the Eric Rood Administrative Center.
Photo: Elias Funez

Markowitch said his daughter’s election day absence marks the third time this school year that one of his three children was unable to attend school because of a classmate who tested positive for COVID-19.

Newsom’s approach to the pandemic is exactly why Nevada County resident Bill Drake voted against the recall.

“Governor Newsom’s stance on vaccines and masks — it’s important for all of us to be safe and not to impact the hospitals,” Drake said. “(It’s alarming) to have someone elected who does not honor those safety precautions.”

Jacquelyn Mattoon, of Rough and Ready, said she was grateful for an opportunity to hold Newsom responsible for the pandemic-related deaths that took place in California’s nursing homes. Mattoon, who chose Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley to replace Newsom, said the governor had the option of using Navy hospital ships located off the coast instead of keeping the state’s most vulnerable population in the close quarters of their convalescent homes.

Vehicles wait in line as people drop off their recall election ballots Tuesday afternoon at the Eric Rood Administrative Center in Nevada City.
Photo: Elias Funez

Mattoon also said she disagreed with Newsom’s decision to release inmates incarcerated for violent crime to mitigate the spread and mortality of COVID-19 in prisons.

She said she survived COVID-19 and that the symptoms were not as bad as the “mainstream media” makes them out to be. She opts to watch news from smaller sources who use Rumble and YouTube to convey information.

Isaac Rappaport, of Grass Valley, said he chose to participate in the election because he wanted to make a difference and trusts in-person voting more than mail-in ballots.

“It’s supposed to be about the people’s choice,” Rappaport said.


Fran Cole, president of the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County, said voters’ growing preference for mail-in ballots, combined with the election’s general hype, may redeem the low participation observers generally expect from special and midterm elections.

People attempt to sway some last minute voters Tuesday as they cast their ballots in the recall election.
Photo: Elias Funez

“I think this particular election has had so much publicity — unlike some of the other elections,” Cole said, citing Megan Dahle’s November 2019 win in a special election with less than 30% participation from registered voters in Nevada County. “There’s been quite a lot of money which has been spent on this as well, which increases turnout.”

Cole said many people expressed concerns over the election’s legitimacy, despite the dollars spent and the media’s close coverage of this election.

“This election in particular — many people had been really upset,” Cole said, citing misinformation about the hole in the bottom right-hand corner of the vote-by-mail ballot’s envelope.

Cole said people should conduct their own investigations, especially to verify the information influencing their political decisions.

“It’s important for people to not take what people say without doing their own research,” Cole said. “You see wildly divergent opinions expressed about elections, but if there is some fraud you need to be able to prove it — just saying it doesn’t make it so.”

Cole said the election itself is a reflection of the country’s polarized — and reactionary — politics.

Voters cast their ballots Tuesday for the recall election at the Gold Miners Inn in downtown Grass Valley.
Photo: Elias Funez

“I believe this is a reflection of the polarization, and a reflection of the uniquely low threshold for recall elections in California,” Cole said.

Cole said over the course of creating an educational video for Nevada County voters with input from Gregory Diaz, Nevada County clerk-recorder/registrar of voters, and Natalie Adona, assistant clerk-recorder/registrar of voters, she became aware of the risks posed to election officials as political polarization increases across the American landscape.

“I never in my life thought I would have to teach deescalation techniques to poll workers,” Adona said in the video.

“Before, our job was preparing and administering elections,“ Diaz explained in the League of Women Voters’ video. ”Now we have an added layer — we are defending elections for many hours of our days.“

Cole said she appreciated the opportunity to learn more about what Diaz, Adona and their team in the elections office went through to prepare for the election.

Cole doesn’t have an idea about who will win the recall election, but imagines that the incumbent advantage will not be at play due to the organization of the ballot.

“If there had been a list of candidates and you chose the incumbent from that — a lot of the incumbent advantage comes from name recognition,” Cole said. “It does become a question of if you are happy with the incumbent’s policies, specifically. It’s a different kind of election.”

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at



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