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Ides of March walk 2013

Congress; you are fired.


http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/recall-of-state-officials.aspx#Process

 

Recall of State Officials


Last updated March 14, 2012
woman signing a petition

NOTE:  The following is presented

for informational purposes only.

NCSL does not provide advice on

how to conduct a recall campaign

in any state.  For the specific

procedures to be followed in any state,

please contact state election officials .

Overview

Recall is a procedure that allows citizens to remove and replace a public official

before the end of a term of office.

 

Historically, recall has been used most frequently at the local level. By some

estimates, three-fourths of recall elections are at the city council or school

board level. This brief, however, focuses on the recall only as it applies to

state officials.

Recall differs from another method for removing officials from

office–impeachment—in that it is a political device while impeachment

is a legal process. Impeachment requires the house to bring specific

charges, and the senate to act as a jury. In most of the 19 recall states,

specific grounds are not required, and the recall of a state official is by an election.

 

Recall of State Officials

 

Alaska

Kansas

New Jersey

Arizona

Louisiana

North Dakota

California

Michigan

Oregon

Colorado

Minnesota

Rhode Island

Georgia

Montana

Washington

Idaho

Nevada

Wisconsin

Illinois

 

 

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, July 2011

The District of Columbia also allows recalls. Virginia has a process similar

to a recall, but it is not listed here as a recall state because its process,

while requiring citizen petitions, calls for a recall trial rather than an election.

After sufficient petition signatures are gathered and verified, a circuit court

decides whether a Virginia official will be removed from office.  In all other

recall states, the voters decide through an election.

 


 Recall of Local Officials

In at least 29 states (some sources place this number at 36), recall elections

may be held in local jurisdictions .


History and Use of the Recall in the U.S.

The recall device began in the United States in a municipality–Los Angeles–in 1903.

Michigan and Oregon, in 1908, were the first states to adopt recall procedures

for state officials; Minnesota (1996) and New Jersey (1993) were the most recent.

Historically, recall attempts at the state level have been unsuccessful.

The recall is used much more often, and with more success, at the local level.

Prior to California’s 2003 gubernatorial recall election, the only successful

recall of a governor to date took place in North Dakota in 1921, when voters

removed from office not only Governor Lynn J. Frazier, but also the attorney

general and the commissioner of agriculture. California voters have initiated

32 gubernatorial recall attempts since 1911, but the 2003 recall of Governor

Gray Davis in 2003 was the first to ever reach the ballot. In 1988, Arizona

voters filed enough signatures to trigger a recall election for Governor

Evan Mecham, but he was impeached by the state’s House of Representatives

before the date of the scheduled recall election. Signature verification is

presently underway in Wisconsin, where voters are attempting to recall the

governor and lieutenant governor. Nearly double the required number of

signatures were submitted, and the deadline for the state to certify petitions

is March 19, 2012. If there are enough valid signatures, the recall election

would take place on May 8, 2012. If more than two candidates file, the

May 8 election would be a primary, with a general election following four

weeks later, on June 5.

Recall efforts against state legislators are slightly more common, but still

unusual. In all, recall attempts against legislators have succeeded in triggering

an election just 36 times, and eleven of those occurred in a single year, 2011.

Recall elections for four Wisconsin senators will take place sometime in spring

2012. Seventeen of the 32 state legislators who have already faced a recall

election were successfully recalled; the other 15 survived the recall attempt

and remained in office.  The list below represents all of the recall efforts against

state legislators that led to elections between 1908 (when the first state to

implement the recall, Oregon, did so) and the present.  Many more petitions

are started and never make it to the election stage; either they are abandoned

by their sponsors, or they fail to gather sufficient valid signatures to trigger an election.

All Recall Elections Held in the U.S. for State Legislators

  • 1913: California state senator Marshall Black was recalled.
  • 1914: California state senator Edwin Grant was recalled.
  • 1914: California state senator James Owens survived a recall election.
  • 1932: Wisconsin state senator Otto Mueller survived a recall election.
  • 1935: Oregon state representative Harry Merriam was recalled.
  • 1971: Idaho state senator Fisher Ellsworth was recalled.
  • 1971: Idaho state representative Aden Hyde was recalled.
  • 1981: Washington state senator Peter von Reichbauer survived a recall election.
  • 1983: Michigan state senator Phil Mastin was recalled.
  • 1983: Michigan state senator David Serotkin was recalled.
    (Technically he resigned from office before the results of the recall
    election were certified, but the results were sufficient to recall him.)
  • 1985: Oregon state representative Pat Gillis was recalled.
  • 1988: Oregon state senator Bill Olson was recalled.
  • 1990: Wisconsin state assembly member Jim Holperin survived a recall election.
  • 1994: California state senator David Roberti survived a recall election.
  • 1995: California assembly member Paul Horcher was recalled.
  • 1995: California assembly member Michael Machado survived a recall election.
  • 1995: California assembly member Doris Allen was recalled.
  • 1996: Wisconsin state senator George Petak was recalled.
  • 2003: Wisconsin state senator Gary George was recalled.
  • 2008: California state senator Jeff Denham survived a recall election.
  • 2008: Michigan house speaker Andy Dillon survived a recall election.
  • 2011: Wisconsin state senators Robert Cowles, Alberta Darling, Dave Hansen,
    Sheila Harsdorf, Jim Holperin, Luther Olsen and Robert Wirch survived attempted
    recalls, while Senators Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke were recalled.
  • 2011: Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce was recalled on November 8.
  • 2011: Michigan state representative Paul Scott was recalled on November 8.
  • 2012: Wisconsin Senate President Scott Fitzgerald and senators Van Wanggaard,
    Terry Moulton and Pam Galloway will face a recall election on May 8. If more than
    two candidates file, the May 8 election will be a primary, with a general election
    following four weeks later, on June 5.

Pros and Cons of the Recall

Supporters of the recall maintain that it provides a way for citizens to retain control over

elected officials who are not representing the best interests of their constituents, or who

are unresponsive or incompetent. This view holds that an elected representative is an

agent or a servant and not a master.

 

Opponents argue that it can lead to an excess of democracy, that the threat of a

recall election lessens the independence of elected officials, that it undermines the

principle of electing good officials and giving them a chance to govern until the

next election, and that it can lead to abuses by well-financed special interest groups.


How the Recall Process Works

The recall process varies in its details from one state to another, but in general,

it follows these steps:

1.  File an application to circulate a recall petition (some states allow petitions only

if they meet certain grounds for recall).

2.  Circulate a recall petition, gathering a specified number of signatures in a

limited period of time (view the detailed petitioning requirements).

3.  Submit petitions to election officials for verification of signatures.

4.  If sufficient valid signatures are presented, a recall election is held.

Grounds for Recall

In most states, any registered voter can begin a recall campaign for

any reason. Often, the reasons are political. The 2011 recall efforts provide

a good example for politically-motivated recalls. In Wisconsin, Republican

senators face recalls for their support of the governor’s effort to reduce the

influence of public employee unions, while Democratic senators face recall

because voters disapproved when they left the state to delay a vote on

the union issue. In Arizona, a senator faces recall for his sponsorship of a

controversial immigration bill. The language in Michigan’s constitution is

typical of most states: “Thesufficiency of any statement of reasons or grounds … s
hall be a political rather than a judicial question.
” (Const. Art. II §8)

Specific grounds for recall are required in only eight states:

 

Grounds for Recall

 

Alaska:  Lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties or corruption (AS §15.45.510)

Georgia:  Act of malfeasance or misconduct while in office; violation of oath of office; failure to perform duties prescribed by law; willfully misused, converted, or misappropriated, without authority, public property or public funds entrusted to or associated with the elective office to which the official has been elected or appointed. Discretionary performance of a lawful act or a prescribed duty shall not constitute a ground for recall of an elected public official. (Ga. Code §21-4-3(7) and 21-4-4(c))

Kansas: Conviction for a felony, misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform duties prescribed by law. No recall submitted to the voters shall be held void because of the insufficiency of the grounds, application, or petition by which the submission was procured. (KS Stat. §25-4301)

Minnesota:  Serious malfeasance or nonfeasance during the term of office in the performance of the duties of the office or conviction during the term of office of a serious crime (Const. Art. VIII §6)

Montana:  Physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of oath of office, official misconduct, conviction of certain felony offenses (enumerated in Title 45). No person may be recalled for performing a mandatory duty of the office he holds or for not performing any act that, if performed, would subject him to prosecution for official misconduct. (Mont. Code §2-16-603)

Rhode Island:  Authorized in the case of a general officer who has been indicted or informed against for a felony, convicted of a misdemeanor, or against whom a finding of probable cause of violation of the code of ethics has been made by the ethics commission (Const. Art. IV §1)

Virginia:  Neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office, or upon conviction of a drug-related misdemeanor or a misdemeanor involving a “hate crime” (§24.2-233)

Washington:  Commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office, or who has violation of oath of office (Const. Art. I §33)

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, July 2011

Circulating a Recall Petition

The recall process is similar to the initiative process in that citizen petitions are required.

The number of signatures necessary to qualify a recall petition, however, is often

significantly higher than for initiatives. Signature requirements are based on a formula,

generally a percentage of the vote in the last election for the office in question,

although some states base the formula on the number of eligible voters or other variants.

Whatever the formula, the signature requirements are high: 25 percent in nine states;

25 percent for statewide offices and 35 percent for legislators in Washington; one-third

in Louisiana; and 40 percent in Kansas. California’s requirements are 12 percent for

statewide offices; 20 percent for legislators and appellate judges. Georgia requires 15

percent for statewide offices and 30 percent for all others. Idaho requires 20 percent for

all offices. Montana has the lowest number of required signatures: 10 percent for statewide

officials and 15 percent for state district offices such as legislative districts.

 

Who Can Be Recalled

Signature Requirement        Circulation Time


Alaska

All elected public officers of the state except judicial officers

25% of the votes cast in the last

election for the official being recalled              Not specified

 

Arizona

Every public officer in the state holding an elective office

25% of the votes cast in the last

election for the official being recalled                   120 days

 

California

State officers, members of the legislature, judges of courts of appeal

For statewide officers:                                         160 days

12% of the votes cast in the last

election for the official being

recalled, 1% from each of 5 counties

State Senators, members of the
Assembly, members of the
Board of Equalization, judges of
courts of appeal
:

20% of the votes cast in the last

election for the official being recalled

 

Colorado

Every elective officer of the state

25% of the votes cast in the last                           60 days

election for the official being recalled

 

Georgia

Public officials who hold elective office

For statewide officers:                                            90 days

15% of eligible voters for office at

time of last election, 1/5 from each

congressional district

Others:

30% of eligible voters for office at

time of last election

 

Idaho

Every public officer in the state except judicial officers

20% of eligible voters for office at             60 days

time of last election

 

Illinois

Governor

15% of the votes cast for governor          150 days

in the preceding general election

from each of at least 25 counties

Also required are the signatures from

at least 20 members of the House of

Representatives and 10 members of

the Senate, with no more than half the

signatures of members of each

chamber from the same political party.

 

Kansas

All elected public officers in the state except judicial officers

40% of the votes cast in the last              90 days

election for the official being recalled

 

Louisiana

Any state official except judges of the courts of record

If over 1,000 eligible voters:               180 days

33.3% of eligible voters for office at

time of last election

If fewer than 1,000 eligible voters:

40% of eligible voters for office at

time of last election

 

Michigan

All elective officers except judges of the courts of record

25% of total votes cast for position at     90 days

last election

 

Minnesota

State executive officers, legislators, and judges of the supreme court, court of appeals or a district court

25% of total votes cast for position at     90 days

last election

 

Montana

Any person holding a public office of the state

For statewide officers:                  3 months

10% of eligible voters for office at

time of last election

For district officers:

15% of eligible voters for office at

time of last election

 

Nevada

Every public officer in the state

25% of the votes cast in the last        60 days

election for the official being recalled

 

New Jersey

Any elected official in the state or representing the state in the U.S. Congress

25% of the registered voters in

the electoral district of the official

sought to be recalled


                   Governor or U.S. Senator:  320 days

                                            All others:  160 days


North Dakota

Any elected official of the state or legislative district

25% of the votes cast in the last      Not specified

election for the official being recalled

 

Oregon

Every public officer in the state

15% of total votes cast in officer’s90 days

district for all candidates for

governor in the last election

 

Rhode Island

Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General

15% of total votes cast for said          90 days

office in last general election

 

Washington

Every elective public officer of the state except judges of courts of record

For statewide officers:

25% of the votes cast in the last

election for the official being recalled

Others:

35% of the votes cast in the last

election for the official being recalled

 

Statewide officers:  270 days

Others:  180 days


 

 

 

Wisconsin

Any state, judicial, congressional or legislative official

25% of total votes cast for the office     60 days

of governor at the last election within

the same district or territory of that

officer being recalled

 

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, July 2011

The Recall Election

In six states,the election for a successor is held simultaneously with the recall election. In

California and Colorado, the first question on the ballot is whether the official should be

recalled. Voters are then asked to vote for a candidate for the office; the official who is

the subject of the recall may not be listed among these candidates. If a majority of voters

votes “yes” on the recall question, then the incumbent is recalled and the successor is

elected via the second part of the ballot.  If a majority of voters votes “no” on the recall

question, then the incumbent remains in office and the second portion of the ballot is moot.

In the other states using the simultaneous model, the submission and certification of the

recall petition essentially triggers a special election for the office, and the recall ballot consists

of a list of candidates for the office. The name of the official who is the subject of the recall

may appear on the ballot along with other nominees. In fact, in Arizona and Wisconsin, the

name of the official being recalled is automatically placed on the recall ballot for reelection

unless the official resigns from office.

In the remaining 13 states, the recall ballot contains only the question of whether or not

the official should be recalled. If the majority vote is “yes” for recall, the office is declared

vacant and is filled at a special election or as otherwise provided by law, which in some

states is by appointment for the remainder of the term. The chart below details how the

recall election is conducted in each state.

Recall Election Held Simultaneously With Election for Successor

Recall Election Followed by Separate Special Election for Successor

Recall Election; 
Successor is Appointed

Arizona1

Georgia

Alaska

California2

Louisiana

Idaho3

Colorado2

Michigan

Kansas3

Nevada1

Minnesota

Washington5

North Dakota1

Montana4

 

Wisconsin1

New Jersey

 

 

Oregon

 

 

Rhode Island

 

 

Illinois

 

1) In these states, the recall ballot consists of a list of candidates for the office held by the person

against whom the recall petition was filed. The name of the officer against whom the recall was

filed may appear on the ballot for reelection.

2) In these states, the recall ballot consists of two parts. The first asks whether the officer

against whom the recall petition was filed should be recalled. The second part consists of

a list of candidates who have qualified for the election. The name of the officer against

whom the recall petition was filed may not appear on this list.

3) The governor appoints a successor who must be a member of the same political

party as the officeholder recalled, and must be selected from a list submitted by a

committee of the political party of the person recalled.

4) If vacancy occurs within 85 days of the general election in the second year of

the term (terms are for four years), the county board of commissioners appoints

a successor to serve until the election.

5) County board of commissioners appoints a person from a list submitted by a

committee of the political party of the person recalled.


Recall Provisions in State Constitutions and Statutes

Alaska – Const. Art. 11, §8; AS §15.45.510-710, 15.60.010, 29.26.250-350

Arizona – Const. Art. 8, §1-6; Ariz. Rev. Stat. §19-201 – 19-234

California – Const. Art. 2, §13-19; CA Election Code §11000-11386

Colorado – Const. Art. 21; Colo. Rev. Stat. §1-12-101 – 1-12-122, 23-17-120.5,

31-4-501 – 31-4-505

Georgia – Const. Art. 2, §2.4; Ga. Code §21-4-1 et seq.

Idaho – Const. Art. 6, §6; Idaho Code §34-1701 – 34-1715

Illinois – Const. Art. 3. §7

Kansas – Const. Art. 4, §3; KSA §25-4301 – 25-4331

Louisiana – Const. Art. 10, §26; La. Stats. Ann. §18:1300.1 – 18:1300.17

Michigan – Const. Art. 2, §8; Mich. Election Law §168.951 – 168.975

Minnesota – Const. Art. 8, §6; Minn. Stat. Ann. §211C.01 et seq.

Montana – Mont. Code § 2-16-601 – 2-16-635

Nevada – Const. Art. 2, §9; Nev. Rev. Stat. §294A.006, Ch. 306, 539.

163 – 539.183

New Jersey – Const. Art. 1, §2(b); NJ Rev. Stat. Ann. § 19:27A-1 – 19:27A-18

North Dakota – Const. Art. 3, §1 and 10; ND Century Code Ann. §16.1-01-09.1,

44-08-21

Oregon – Const. Art. 2, §18; Or. Rev. Stat. §249.865 – 249.880

Rhode Island – Const. Art. 4, §1

Virginia – Va. Code §24.2-233

Washington – Const. Art. 1, Sec. 33-34; Wash. Rev. Code §29A.56-110 et seq.

Wisconsin – Const. Art. 13, §12; Wis. Stat. Ann. §9.10


Contact for More Information

For more information on recall, contact Jennie Drage Bowser in NCSL’s Denver office.

Please note that NCSL does not provide advice on how to conduct a recall campaign in

any state.  For the specific procedures to be followed in any state, please contact your

state or local election official.

 

Denver Office

Tel: 303-364-7700

| Fax: 303-364-7800

| 7700 East First Place

| Denver, CO 80230



Washington OfficeTel: 202-624-5400
| Fax: 202-737-1069
| 444 North Capitol Street,
N.W., Suite 515
| Washington, D.C. 20001

©2012 National Conference of State Legislatures.  All Rights Reserved

April 6, 2012 - Posted by | This is why we walk

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