SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – As Governor Gavin Newsom faces a likely recall election later this year, some elections officials are warning it could be one of the most expensive elections in state history.

A group of election officials is warning Governor Gavin Newsom’s recall election could cost $400 million — More than four times as much as Gov. Newsom and other state officials expected originally.

It could be one of the most expensive elections in state history.

“It’s entirely possible if we have to fall under the same COVID restrictions that we did,” Donna Johnston said.

Donna Johnston is the president of the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials, a bipartisan group of county clerks and registrars.

The group notes the 2020 general election was the most expensive in California’s history costing $18 per voter, requiring PPE, larger spaces, and vote by mail ballots. 

Johnston says if these same rules apply to the recall, it will carry the same, historic price tag.

Whether the state will reimburse counties for the likely election is still to be determined.

“It could be a very large deficit to many county budgets and many county boards of supervisors are going to have to make very difficult decisions as to what to fund,” Johnston said.

Elections officials noted the state did not reimburse counties for the cost of California’s last recall in 2003 of Gov. Gray Davis.

Legislative leaders Tuesday would not say if the state will pick up the tab for Newsom’s. In a statement Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said:

“Neither the state nor the counties should be stuck footing the bill for such an unnecessary election. While the cost is still being determined, what we do know is the cost of this frivolous special election will be borne by California’s taxpayers.”

Newsom’s campaign manager Dan Newman said in a statement: “400 million more reasons why the Republican recall is a terrible idea. These Republicans are wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money – funds that could be used to help our small businesses, schools, and families recover from the pandemic.”

Recall supporters say the money is worth it, criticizing the governor’s pandemic-related policies on businesses, schools, and the tens of billions of dollars in unemployment benefits paid to fraudsters by his administration.

“If you were running a $150 Billion Dollar company and your CEO lost $35 billion, what would you do with him? You’d fire him. I’d pay $400 million in a severance package,” Anne Dunsmore, Rescue California, said. 

Right now, we’re in a 30 businesses day period where those who signed the recall petition can have their signatures removed.

Newsom would need about 130,000 signatures removed to stop the recall.

Once that period ends and the recall petitions are finalized, the state department of finance will do an analysis on the cost of the recall and will have the official, final say on its price.