How do recalls work in each state?

In some areas of the country, citizens can use the recall process to remove elected officials from office before their term is completed. This process typically includes the circulation of petitions by recall organizers, the evaluation of signatures by election officials, and a public vote if the petitions are deemed to have sufficient valid signatures.
 
There are 39 states that allow citizens to recall local elected officials, and 19 states permit the recall of state officials. Of those 19 states, citizens in 10 of them can recall any kind of state-level elected official. Seven of the states only allow citizens to recall state executives and legislators, but not appellate judges. Rhode Island only permits the recall of state executives, and Illinois only permits the recall of the governor.
 
In Virginia, recalls take the form of petitions to the state’s circuit courts. Virginia laws allow local officials to be recalled, but it is unclear whether a state official can be recalled. There is no precedent of a state legislator or governor in Virginia having faced recall. Virginia is the only state not to use elections for its recall process.
 
Eleven states do not permit the recall of elected officials. These states are Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, and Vermont.



About the author

Daniel Anderson

Daniel Anderson is a managing editor at Ballotpedia and can be reached at daniel.anderson@ballotpedia.org

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