Washington Supreme Court rejects recall petition of county sheriff

A petition seeking to recall John Snaza from his position as sheriff of Thurston County, Washington, was ruled to be legally and factually insufficient by the Washington Supreme Court on February 11, 2021. This court ruling ended the recall effort.

The recall effort started after the sheriff’s office released a statement on June 24, 2020, saying “it would be inappropriate for deputies to criminally enforce” the state’s mandate to wear a mask in public places. Recall supporters said the sheriff’s statement was impeding the efforts of state and city governments as well as emergency and hospital officials to protect the public. Snaza said it was his intent to educate people about the law rather than arrest them.

The recall petition was initially approved for circulation on July 29, 2020, by Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton. Snaza filed an appeal against that ruling with the state supreme court. If Snaza’s appeal had been rejected, recall supporters would have had 180 days to collect 23,027 signatures to get the recall on the ballot.

Two other sheriff recall efforts were appealed with the Washington Supreme Court in 2020. Both appeals were rejected, and the recall efforts were allowed to circulate petitions.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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