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California held a referendum on Tuesday on the removal of the state’s Democratic governor. Voters have decided to keep Gavin Newsom in office, voting overwhelmingly “no”, according to estimates released Tuesday night by the US media.

California had to decide on the retention of its Democratic governor, weakened by the Covid-19 crisis. According to estimates released by the media, voters in this US state rejected the dismissal of Gavin Newsom in the referendum on Tuesday, September 14.

Polling stations closed at 8 p.m. (local time, 5 a.m. Wednesday in Paris) but some 9 million voters had voted early, which made it possible to obtain rapid first projections.

The “no” got about two-thirds of the votes after counting more than 60% of the ballots already counted, according to CNN and NBC. With such a lead, the two channels believe that Democrat Gavin Newsom will remain governor and complete his term.

A national issue

Using a provision of the Californian Constitution, disgruntled citizens – very quickly rallied by the Republican Party – had obtained this “recall ballot” allowing to dismiss a governor outside any electoral calendar, after having collected more than 1.5 million signatures.

Proof of the national stake of this referendum in a state equivalent to the fifth world economic power, President Joe Biden put on his hat as the boss of the Democratic camp and went to California on Monday to support Mr. Newsom.

His Republican predecessor Donald Trump, meanwhile, once again chose to shake up the specter of election fraud in the mail ballot, allegations he made after his defeat to Joe Biden without ever being able to substantiate them.

Charges of electoral fraud

Echoing the deep divide that divides the United States, Californians supporters of the referendum denounce excessive taxes, a democratic “elite” perceived as contemptuous and individual freedoms flouted by the authorities since the start of the pandemic.

Opponents see it as a maneuver to take command of a fiercely democratic state, out of reach for the conservatives in a classic election.

Voters had a choice of 46 candidates, overwhelmingly Republican, including ultra-conservative radio host Larry Elder, a favorite among Mr. Newsom’s competitors, transgender icon Caitlyn Jenner, famous for being a member of the Kardashian clan, and a multitude of more or less eccentric ones.

Like Mr. Trump, most Republicans in the referendum have echoed the accusations of voter fraud. Larry Elder has so far refused to say whether he will accept the results of the poll and has launched a website urging his supporters to report any irregularities they witness in order to preserve the “integrity” of the vote.

The cost of the referendum is estimated at nearly $ 280 million by the authorities.

With AFP

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