Five states allow local governments to set policies on recalling local officials

Welcome to the Wednesday, August 25, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. A closer look at Tennessee’s recall laws
  2. One year ago this week, Republicans held presidential nominating convention
  3. Redistricting Roundup: 11 states require that prison inmates are counted at their pre-incarceration address

A closer look at Tennessee’s recall laws

Recalls have been in the news throughout 2021, whether they are about statewide recalls or hyper-local efforts. We cover recalls extensively, and one of our writers found some interesting aspects of Tennessee’s recall laws that I wanted to share.

Tennessee statutes allow recalls in any “governmental entity having a charter provision for a petition for recall.” This delegates the decision about recalls of local officials to each municipality. If a local government’s charter allows for such recalls, then state law establishes the signature requirements and filing deadlines for conducting them. This also applies to school board members. Tennessee law says, “Any member of the board of education of the city elected or appointed…may be removed from office by the registered voters of the city.”

Tennessee also allows any county with a metropolitan form of government and more than 100,000 residents to establish its own recall procedures in its charter. One example of this is in Nashville, which has a population of 715,884, according to 2020 census data. In 1963, the governments of the city of Nashville and Davidson County merged to form the Nashville-Davidson Metro Government.

Here are three differences between Tennessee’s laws and Nashville’s charter regarding recalls:

  • Nashville allows for the recall of any elected municipal official except during the first and last 180 days of their terms. Tennessee law prohibits recalls during the first and last 90 days of an official’s term.
  • Nashville requires that petitioners collect signatures within 30 days of filing a notice of intention to collect signatures for a recall. Tennessee law gives petitioners 75 days to collect the required number of signatures.
  • For recalls of school board members or city council officials elected from a district or subdivision of a city, Nashville requires that petitioners collect signatures from more than 15% of registered voters of the district from which the officer was elected. Tennessee law requires signatures from 66% of the total vote at the last regular election for that office. Both Nashville and Tennessee require petitioners to gather signatures from more than 15% of registered voters for officials elected citywide.

Ballotpedia has tracked 13 recall campaigns in Tennessee since 2009, with four of them in Nashville. Petitioners did not submit signatures for three Nashville recall efforts—one in 2012 and two efforts in 2020. In 2009, voters recalled Councilwoman Pam Murray, 542 votes to 540.

Four other states—Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire—allow local jurisdictions to set policies for the recall of municipal and school board officials.

In 2020, Ballotpedia tracked recall efforts against nine elected officials in Tennessee. California had the most officials targeted for recall—41.

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One year ago this week, Republicans held presidential nominating convention 

One year ago this week, from August 24-27, the Republican National Committee held its 2020 presidential nominating convention. Limited in-person events took place in Charlotte, North Carolina, and President Donald Trump formally accepted the party’s nomination from the White House.

The Republican National Committee Executive Committee voted in June 2020 to downsize the convention in Charlotte due to the coronavirus pandemic and reduced the number of in-person delegates from 2,500 to 336. Statewide restrictions in North Carolina in response to the coronavirus pandemic led to the proposed relocation of some events to Jacksonville, Florida. On July 23, 2020, Trump announced that high-profile convention events previously moved to Jacksonville—including his nomination acceptance speech—had been canceled for public health and safety reasons. 

President Trump gave his nomination acceptance speech on Aug. 27 from the White House lawn. Vice President Mike Pence gave his vice presidential nomination acceptance speech on Aug. 26 at Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore.

The Democratic National Committee held its presidential nominating convention during the week of August 17, 2020, across four stages in New York City, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Wilmington. Most of the convention’s events took place remotely.

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Redistricting Roundup: 11 states require that prison inmates are counted at their pre-incarceration address

Alaska: The state’s Redistricting Board approved a schedule on Aug. 23 that treated Aug. 12 as the starting point of its 90-day process. The schedule sets Sept. 11 as the deadline for publishing the commission’s proposed plans and Nov. 10 as the deadline for adopting its final plan. 

Incarcerated persons: Eleven states have passed policies since 2010 requiring redistricting authorities to count prison inmates who are state residents at their pre-incarceration address, rather than in the community where their detention facility is located. Ten states will have those policies take effect with the current redistricting, while Illinois’ policy will not go into effect until 2025. President Joe Biden (D) won all 11 of these states in the 2020 presidential election.

These states differ on whether their policy for counting incarcerated persons in their pre-incarceration districts applies to legislative or congressional maps. Four states will count incarcerated persons at their pre-incarceration addresses for legislative maps only, and seven will count them at their pre-incarceration residences for both legislative and congressional maps.

The states’ policies also differ on how out-of-state inmates, and inmates with unknown previous residences, are counted. Two states—Colorado and Virginia—count these people as residents in their correctional facility for redistricting purposes. Seven exclude this group from all district redistricting population calculations. Connecticut counts these inmates as generic residents of the state, and Nevada’s policies do not address the issue.

Federal inmates are counted the same as state inmates in six states and are excluded from redistricting calculations in two states. Three states have not addressed how to count persons incarcerated in federal facilities for redistricting.

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