All the California Recall Ballot Questions and Answers Fit to Print, Part I

The following are questions and answers on the California recall election provided to you by Fox News.

Q: If Gov. Gray Davis resigns before the Oct. 7 recall election, does that mean the election will not be held?

A: The secretary of state's offices says the election would proceed even if Davis resigned. Upon resignation, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante would become governor. Whether he would actually be removed from office by a 50-percent-plus-one majority in the recall election is the subject of considerable debate. Currently, no definitive legal precedent or specific guidance from the state Constitution exists. Legal experts from both parties say they are still not sure, but several Democratic strategists have told Fox News the question is moot because Davis will never resign.

Q. Can you explain this alphabet ballot sequence?

A: The ballot-bingo Monday in Sacramento established the 26-letter sequence. It goes R W Q O J M V A H B S G Z X N T C I E K U P D Y F L. The letters also are ordered that way throughout the names of candidates, so "Robinson" would come before "Rainforth." The state also has a process to rotate the names in subsequent assembly districts. If "Robinson" were the first name on the 1st Assembly District, it would drop to the bottom of the Rs in the 2nd Assembly District, and the second name that starts with R would go to the top of the sequence. When the R's are finished, the first name that starts with W will lead the ballot and all the R's would be on the bottom. There are 80 Assembly Districts in the state and 131 certified names by Wednesday morning, so many candidates' names will never lead the list. California implemented this system after studies showed that the traditional A, B, C method disproportionately favors candidates with last names that placed them higher on the ballot.

Q: Will California use paper ballots or electronic touch-screen machines to count the vote?

A: Both. Three counties — Riverside, Alameda and Plumas — will use ATM-style touch-screen systems.

Twenty-eight counties will use pencil ballots. Voters use No. 2 pencils to mark ballots, which are then read by optical-scanning machines.

Twenty-seven counties will use punch-card systems of the kind used in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. These include some of the state's most populous counties: Los Angeles with 4 million voters; San Diego with 1.4 million voters; Orange with 1.2 million voters; and Santa Clara with 731,000 voters. Chads will litter the polling places in those counties.

Q: What are the key dates in the recall election?

A: On Wednesday, Aug. 13, the secretary of state issues a "certified list" of qualified candidates.

Aug. 28 is the deadline for filing candidate campaign-finance reports.

Sept. 8 is the day absentee voting begins.

Sept. 22 is the deadline to register to vote in the election.

Sept. 23 is the last day to file as a write-in candidate.

Sept. 25 is the deadline for the second candidate campaign-finance report.

Sept. 27 is the last day to mail voter guides to roughly 11 million households.

September 30 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot.

October 7 is Election Day. Polls will remain open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

Q: Is Gov. Gray Davis on the replacement ballot?

A: No. The first question on the two-part ballot asks whether Gov. Davis should be recalled. The second question is to choose who would succeed him. Voters can pick one candidate.

Q: Can you vote "no" on recall and still vote "yes" on a replacement candidate?

A: Yes, and that's the Democrats' strategy. Democrats are urging supporters to vote "no" on recall but "yes" for Bustamante. What's behind the strategy is the realization that Davis, according to all public and private polls, is likely to lose the recall. To retain control of the governor's office, Democrats have to elect a successor on the replacement ballot. Here's where the political math gets interesting. The recall must pass with a 50-percent-plus-one majority. If it does, the next governor of California need only win a plurality of the votes cast in the "replacement" election. The Democrats' strategy is to consolidate party support behind Bustamante in the hopes that a divided Republican field of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Simon, and state Sen. Tom McClintock will carve up the GOP vote and give Bustamante a better chance of winning.

Q: Are there other questions on the ballot?

A: Yes. Two statewide propositions will be on the ballot. Proposition 53 is a proposed constitutional amendment sponsored by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature that would require the state to set aside a portion of its budget for roadwork and other infrastructure spending. Proposition 54 seeks to ban state agencies from collecting data on residents' race as it relates to services, health care, imprisonment, etc. Of the two, Proposition 54 could cause a mild spike in turnout among minorities who oppose it and whites who support it.

Q: What are the cost estimates for the recall election?

A: The counties have told the secretary of state's office it will cost them collectively between $42 and $55 million to conduct the election. The secretary of state estimates it will cost his office $11 million to prepare, print and mail voter guides to all registered voters. This puts the latest cost estimate at between $53 million and $66 million.

Q: Is there any limit on the amount of money that can be raised and spent to support or oppose the recall question?

A: No.

Q: Are there limits on contributions to candidates running for governor?

A: Yes. $21,200 is the most an individual or a group can contribute to any candidate.

Q: Will you answer more questions about this bizarre election if we have them?

A: Maybe.