More city officials facing recall in 2023 than in 2020-2022

The number of city officials who had been included in recall efforts as of June 15, 2023, was higher than at a similar point in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Eighteen city officials had drawn recall efforts compared to four in 2022 and one in 2021. Ballotpedia did not track any recall efforts targeting city officials in 2020. For the purpose of recall tracking, we consider city officials to be individuals elected to a city or township office who do not fall into another office category we track, so mayors and city council members are not included in these statistics.

All of the city official recall efforts Ballotpedia had tracked in the first half of 2023 occurred in townships in Michigan. For recalls involving Michigan township boards, we categorize clerks and treasurers as city officials, trustees as city council members, and supervisors as mayors.

In the first half of 2023:

  • Voters recalled three city officials
  • Voters retained one city official
  • Two city officials resigned 
  • A recall effort against one city official did not go to a vote
  • Two city officials will face a recall election later this year
  • Recall efforts for the remaining nine city officials were underway

The reasons organizers gave for the recall efforts fall into two general categories: allegations that the official was not performing their duties and the official’s vote on a particular topic. Recall organizers in three townships gave votes by city officials regarding wind turbine height as a reason for a recall effort.

The only criteria used to determine whether a recall petition should be approved for circulation in Michigan is if the language is clear and factual. The determination is made during a clarity/factual hearing. Michigan is one of 23 states that allows recall petitions without requiring pre-petition signatures or grounds for recall to be met before moving forward. 

Michigan led the way in officials targeted for recall with 71 in 2023. California followed with 28, and Colorado came in third with 24. Michigan also had the most officials targeted for recall in 2018 and 2022. From 2016 to 2017 and 2019 to 2021, California had the most officials targeted for recall.

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