Recall Effort against CA Sen. Aisha Wahab Falls Apart

The current recall effort against state Sen. Aisha Wahab — provoked by her contentious 2023 caste discrimination bill — won’t move forward, after proponents say they were unable to submit signatures.

May 23 was the deadline to turn in 42,802 valid signatures of voters in the district, which includes parts of Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

But Ritesh Tandon, one of the recall organizers and a congressional candidate in 2020, 2022 and the primary in March, said a line on the forms that were required to submit signatures was missing. He claimed they had collected more than 30,000 signatures by March.

The Secretary of State’s office, which cleared the proponents to start collecting signatures in December, confirmed it was notified of the problem, but said it told the proponents on Feb. 20 that the issue was not enough to invalidate the petition.

“The proponents were notified that the recall effort could continue, and that they should instruct the circulators to sign the declaration in the blank margin under the declaration of circulator statements,” the Secretary of State’s office told CalMatters today.

Tandon, however, said it was impossible to go back to the petition circulators — he said there were 10,000 — to add their signatures.

The organizers say they’ve learned lessons from the process and will try again to recall the Democratic senator from Fremont, whose first term runs until 2026.

“It’s disappointing to see that this is their third attempt, based on the fact that I carried a bill about civil rights and they’re not happy with it,” Wahab told CalMatters. “It’s disappointing to see the amount of time and energy and money that is going into this effort. And there are people that are fundraising off of this and putting money in their own pockets over the misinformation that they’re sharing with the community.”

Tandon said the latter allegation was “completely invalid.”

The recall had been the only active effort this year against a state legislator. It was originally started last year in response to Wahab’s bill to strengthen protections against caste discrimination in employment and housing. The Legislature passed a version of the bill, which was opposed by groups who alleged the bill unfairly targeted Hindu Californians, but Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed it.

Now, recall organizers say the caste bill is no longer the reason, and instead take issue with Wahab’s work as the new chairperson of the Senate’s Public Safety committee and concerns over crime, including not responding to shooting deaths and vehicle fires in the district, and for introducing a bill that would prohibit asking housing applicants to disclose any criminal history.

Sameea Kamal is a reporter with CalMatters.


  1. The CA SOS said to proceed with the problematic application while simultaneously asking us to go back to the 10,000 forms missing circulator signatures and collect signatures from every circulator.

    We were prepared to comply and requested a little more time from the CA SOS due to their mistake, but they did not grant us the extension.

    We also requested the CA SOS to waive the circulator signature requirement due to their error, but they did not agree.

    It feels like we are no longer in a democracy, as the CA SOS can seemingly do whatever they want.

  2. The state Elections Code has many details, but it’s mostly cut-and-dried. There are 10,000 sections of your petition and each one requires an attestation from a circulator. It sounds like the SoS allowed your campaign to “cure” the missing signatures, but you were unable to do so in the remaining time.

    Why is it “their mistake” or “their error”? They are bureaucrats following a checklist and the due dates are set by state law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *