Michigan board approves secretary of state recall for circulation

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on September 24 approved the petition language for a recall against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D). Supporters of the recall effort need to submit 1,046,006 signatures within a 60-day period to require a recall election. The 60 days begin on the first day that signatures are collected. The recall petition must be submitted to the office of Michigan’s secretary of state no later than 180 days after it was approved by the board.

The recall petition was submitted by Chad Baase and was approved for circulation by the board by a 4-0 vote. Michigan laws state that the reason for recall must be deemed factual and clear by the Board of State Canvassers before the recall petition can be placed in circulation. The board does not document a rationale for their determination, only the judgment of rejected or approved. The recall petition criticizes Benson over an announcement that her office would be mailing out postcards to Michigan voters that encouraged them to apply online to vote from home in the upcoming November general election.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board also voted on a recall against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D). The recall was submitted by Baase, and the board voted 4-0 to reject the petition language. The recall petition criticized Nessel over plans “to ramp enforcement of Covid-19 related restrictions at long-term care facilities.” According to the board, the recall petition was rejected because the language made it unclear who would be imposing the restrictions on the long-term care facilities.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, four statewide officials in Michigan have seen recall petitions submitted against them to the Board of State Canvassers. In total, 30 recall petitions have targeted the four officials. In comparison, Ballotpedia tracked no recall efforts against any Michigan statewide official in 2019.

This year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has had 20 recall petitions submitted against her. Nine of those petitions have been approved for circulation, 10 efforts were rejected, and one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner. Benson has seen two other recall petitions submitted against her. One recall effort was withdrawn by the petitioner, and the other was rejected by the board. Two recall petitions have also been introduced against Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D). One petition has been approved by the board, and the other was rejected. Nessel saw four other recall petitions submitted against her. All four petitions were rejected by the board.

Michigan is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Whitmer was elected as Michigan’s governor in 2018 with 53.3% of the vote.

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