Topic:
RECALLS;
Location:
RECALL;

OLR Research Report


January 13, 2004

 

2004-R-0082

RECALL PROVISIONS AND LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS

By: Jennifer Gelb, Research Attorney

You asked how many states have recall provisions. You also wanted to know if any bills were proposed recently to allow recall of high governmental officials in Connecticut.

SUMMARY

Recall is a process by which elected officials can be subject to removal from office during their term by a vote of the people at an election called by a specified number of voters for this purpose. Eighteen states currently permit recall of state officials, seven of which require specific grounds to recall an official, such as misconduct, incompetence, conviction of a crime, or violation of the oath of office.

Several resolutions have been proposed in the Connecticut General Assembly to amend the state constitution to establish the power to recall elected officials. These resolutions are usually referred to the Government Administration and Elections (GAE) Committee, which has not favorably reported such a resolution in at least 13 years.

RECALL PROVISIONS IN OTHER STATES

According to a recent report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states currently permit recall of state officials: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin. In addition, the District of Columbia provides for recalls, and Virginia has a process allowing for a recall trial, rather than a recall election. While most states providing for recall elections allow voters to commence the recall process for a broad range of reasons, Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Rhode Island, and Washington require specific grounds to recall an official, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Specific Grounds Required to Recall an Official in Certain States

State

Citation

Permissible Grounds

Alaska

AS 15.45.510

Lack of fitness

Incompetence

Neglect of duties

Corruption

Georgia

Ga. Code 21-4-3(7), 21-4-4(c)

Malfeasance or misconduct while in office

Violation of oath of office

Failure to perform duties prescribed by law

Willful misuse, conversion, or misappropriation, without authority, of public property or funds entrusted or associated with the elective office

Kansas

KS Stat. 25-4301

Conviction for a felony

Misconduct in office

Incompetence

Failure to perform duties prescribed by law

Minnesota

Const. Art. VIII 6

Serious malfeasance or nonfeasance in performance of duties of the office

Conviction of a serious crime during the term of office

Montana

Mont. Code 2-16-603

Physical or mental lack of fitness

Incompetence

Violation of oath of office

Official misconduct

Conviction of certain felony offenses (enumerated in Title 45)

Rhode Island

Const. Art. IV 1

General officer who has been indicted or informed against for a felony, convicted of a misdemeanor, or against whom the ethics commission has found probable cause of violating the code of ethics

Washington

Const. Art. I 33

Malfeasance or misfeasance while in office

Violation of oath of office

The states also differ on the recall process itself. Table 2 shows who can be recalled, how many signatures are required for the recall petition, and how long the petition must circulate.

Table 2: Recall Provisions for Statewide and Legislative Officers

State

Who can be recalled

Signature requirement

Circulation time

Alaska

All but judicial officers

25% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled

Not specified

Arizona

All

25% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled

120 days

California

All

For statewide officers: 12% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled, 1% from each of 5 counties

Others: 20% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled

160 days

Colorado

All

25% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled

60 days

Georgia

All

For statewide officers: 15% of eligible voters for the office at the time of the last election, 1/5 from each congressional district

Others: 30% of eligible voters for the office at the time of the last election

90 days

Idaho

All but judicial officers

20% of eligible voters for the office at the time of the last election

60 days

Kansas

All but judicial officers

40% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled

90 days

Louisiana

All but judicial officers

If over 1,000 eligible voters: 33.3% of eligible voters for the office at the time of the last election

If fewer than 1,000 eligible voters: 40% of eligible voters for the office at the time of the last election

180 days

Michigan

All but judicial officers

25% of total votes cast for the position at the last election

90 days

Minnesota

State executive officers, legislators, judicial officers

25% of total votes cast for the position at the last election

90 days

Montana

All

For statewide officers: 10 % of eligible voters for the office at the time of the last election

For district officers: 15% of eligible voters for the office at the time of the last election

3 months

Nevada

All

25% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled

60 days

New Jersey

All

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

All but U.S. Congress

25% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled

Not specified

Oregon

All but U.S. Congress

15% of total votes cast in the officer's district for all candidates for governor in the last election

90 days

Rhode Island

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

15% of total votes cast for said office in the last general election

90 days

Washington

All but judicial officers

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

All

For statewide officers: 25% of total votes cast for the position at the last election

Others: 25% of the votes cast for the position of president in the last election

60 days

CONNECTICUT LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS

Several resolutions have been proposed to amend Connecticut's constitution to allow for recall of elected officials, but none has been reported favorably out of legislative committee. The following proposals have been made in the last seven years:

2003

SJ 5, A Resolution Proposing a Constitutional Amendment Establishing the Power to Recall Elected Officials, referred to the Government Administration and Elections (GAE) Committee, which took no action.

SJ 8, A Resolution Proposing a Constitutional Amendment Establishing the Power to Recall Elected Officials, referred to the GAE Committee, which took no action.

2001

SJ 12, A Resolution Proposing a Constitutional Amendment Establishing the Power to Recall Elected Officials, referred to the GAE Committee, which took no action.

1999

SJ 5, A Resolution Proposing a Constitutional Amendment Establishing the Power to Recall Elected Officials, referred to the GAE Committee, which took no action.

1997

HJ 9, A Resolution Proposing a State Constitutional Amendment Establishing the Power to Recall Certain Elected Officials, referred to the GAE Committee, which held a public hearing.

SJ 8, A Resolution Proposing a Constitutional Amendment Establishing the Power to Recall Elected Officials, referred to the GAE Committee, which held a public hearing.

SJ 13, A Resolution Proposing a Constitutional Amendment Permitting the Recall of Elected Officials, referred to the GAE Committee, which held a public hearing.

SJ 16, A Resolution Proposing a State Constitutional Amendment Establishing the Power to Recall Certain Elected Officials, referred to the GAE Committee, which held a public hearing.

SJ 25, A Resolution Proposing a State Constitutional Amendment Establishing the Power to Recall Certain Elected Officials, referred to the GAE Committee, which held a public hearing.

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