Former President Trump slammed the “rigged” California recall election on the final day of voting, doubling down on his previous claims as voters decide whether to keep or remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“People don’t realize that, despite the Rigged voting in California (I call it the ‘Swarming Ballots’), I got 1.5 Million more votes in 2020 than I did in 2016,” Mr. Trump said in a Tuesday statement.
He added that “a guy who can’t even bring water into their State, which I got federal approval to do (that is the hard part), will probably win,” referring to Mr. Newsom.
The message wasn’t necessarily helpful to Republicans and recall proponents as they seek to whip up voter turnout to combat the nearly 2-to-1 party registration edge enjoyed by California Democrats.
In a Monday statement, Mr. Trump said, “Does anyone really believe that the California Recall Election isn’t rigged? Millions and millions of Mail-In Ballots will make this just another giant Election Scam, no different, but less blatant, than the 2020 Presidential Election Scam!”
The voter-fraud issue has drawn more attention in recent weeks as leading Republican recall candidate Larry Elder encouraged those who experience “irregularities, interference or intimidation” while voting to fill out an affidavit on stopcafraud.com, which is linked to his website.
“We have a voter integrity board all set up — most of these are lawyers,” Mr. Elder told reporters last week in Los Angeles. “So, when people hear things, they contact us. We’re going to file lawsuits in a timely fashion.”
Earlier this year, former Trump administration official Richard Grenell launched Fix California, which seeks to fight voter fraud and make state elections more secure.
Mr. Newsom blasted warnings of possible election fraud, calling them “just an extension of the big lie and ‘stop the steal,’” referring to Mr. Trump’s allegations of voter fraud after his loss in November.
California Secretary of State Shirley Weber said in a statement that the state has “the strictest voting system testing, procedures for use and security requirements in the nation,” and that concerns about election security are “inaccurate.”
In his Tuesday statement, Mr. Trump said many people are “already complaining that when they go to vote they are told, ‘I’m sorry, you already voted’ (Just like 2020, among many things).”
He was apparently referring to reports that some San Fernando Valley voters were told when they tried to vote in-person that they had already voted.
The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s office chalked it up to an equipment problem and said it had been fixed, adding that the voters were given provisional ballots, according to KLTA-TV.
Recall organizer Orrin Heatlie said Sunday that he worried that if people think voter fraud is rampant, “then they’re not as likely to cast their vote.”
“People just need to vote. It’s not voter fraud that we need to be worried about that will damage this recall, it’s voter apathy,” Mr. Heatlie told Inside California Politics.
The polls close at 8 p.m. Pacific time Tuesday, but the results will not be known immediately because the state issued 22 million mail-in ballots, which need only be postmarked Tuesday, not received, to count.
About 9 million, or 41%, of the 22 million mail-in ballots issued in the special election had been returned as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Political Data Inc.’s tracker.
The return rate for Democrats and Republicans was nearly equal: 45% of Democratic voters had returned their ballots versus 44% of Republicans, while 32% of independents had mailed back theirs.
Given that California Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2 to 1, however, that means twice as many Democrats had voted by mail. More than 4.6 million Democrats had returned ballots versus 2.3 million Republicans, the tracker showed.
The two-part ballot asks voters first whether they support recalling Mr. Newsom, and second, which of the 46 recall candidates they favor. The second question only comes into play if a majority support the recall.
Mr. Newsom is the fourth U.S. governor and second Californian to face a recall. In 2003, Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. The only governor to defeat a recall entering Tuesday’s special election was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2012. North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier was recalled in 1921.