School board recalls remain higher than pre-pandemic average—and other findings from our mid-year recall report

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Welcome to the Tuesday, June 27, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. School board recalls remain higher than pre-pandemic average—and other findings from our mid-year recall report
  2. Here’s the latest on the 2024 election calendar 
  3. 86 candidates filed for federal and statewide offices last week

School board recalls remain higher than pre-pandemic average—and other findings from our mid-year recall report

We’ve just released our annual mid-year report looking at recall efforts through the first half of the year. 

There’s a lot to cover in the report. Below, we’ll walk you through three key takeaways. But first, here’s the big picture:

From Jan. 1 to June 21, we covered 149 recall efforts against 227 officials

  • This represents a small decline from last year, when we tallied 152 recall efforts against 240 officials by June. In comparison, the highest number of recall efforts we have tracked by mid-year was 189 in 2016 and the lowest was 72 in 2019. 
  • Between 2010 and 2022, we tracked an average of 210 total recall efforts. 
  • Recall elections removed 7.49% of the 227 officials targeted this year, down from the 8.33% at this time in 2022 (and higher than 2021’s 3.42%). 
  • Like last year, Michigan has the most officials targeted for recall with 71. The next two states are California with 28 and Colorado with 24. 

School board recalls remain elevated compared to the years before the pandemic

We’ve tracked 30 school board recall efforts so far this year. That’s higher than the average of 27 school board recall efforts that were tracked per year between 2009 and 2020. In 2021, we tracked 92 school board recall efforts. That fell to 53 in 2022. Those two years account for the highest and second-highest number of recalls that we’ve tracked.

The pandemic contributed to the spike in recall efforts against school board officials. In 2020, 10 of the 29 school board recall efforts included reasons related to the pandemic, which accounted for 34% of all school board recalls. In 2021, 54 of the 92 (59%) school board recall efforts were related to COVID, and in 2022, 22 of the 53 (42%) school board recall efforts were COVID-related.

In 2023, the number of COVID-related school board recalls decreased to one—or 3% of the total. 

Of the 30 school board recall efforts we’ve tracked in 2023, eight efforts listed conduct unbecoming of a public officer as a reason for recall, while four listed decisions to fire a superintendent or not fill a superintendent position in a timely manner. Another three efforts listed support for gender identity or transgender policies, and two listed financial trouble or mismanagement. The reasons listed on the 13 other efforts in 2023 varied from curriculum decisions and mascot changes to pleading guilty to misdemeanors and poor academic performance.

To stay up to date on all things school board politics, including recall efforts, click here to subscribe to Hall Pass, our education-related newsletter. 

City council officials have drawn the most recall attempts so far this year—a return to the recent historical norm

A total of 105 city council or town board members have faced recall campaigns in 2023, drawing more petitions than any other group and re-establishing a pattern seen between 2016 and 2020, and again in 2022. As we discussed above, school board members drew the most recall petitions in 2021 and the first half of 2022.  

The number of county commissioner recalls has fallen sharply in 2023

So far in 2023, eight county commissioners (or equivalent county level officeholders) have been targeted for recall. This is a sharp decline from the 33 county commissioner and county commissioner equivalent recall targets at this time in 2022. 

A board of commissioners functions as a county’s primary legislative and policy-making body. Most boards also control county land usage, oversee environmental issues, and possess executive powers, meaning they can appoint or remove departmental heads.

Recall attempts against county commissioners slowed significantly in the second half of 2022, with a total of 40 recall targets by year’s end. There were 47 recall attempts in 2021.

Our report highlights five noteworthy recall campaigns:

  • The effort against Oregon state Rep. Paul Holvey (D)
  • The effort against Arizona state Sen. Justine Wadsack ®
  • The effort against three members of the Richland School District school board in Washington
  • The effort against two members of the Orange Unified School District Board of Education in California
  • The effort against Cochise County supervisor Tom Crosby in Arizona.

You can read about those efforts and more at the link below.  In January, we’ll release another report looking back on all 2023 recall efforts. 

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Here’s the latest on the 2024 election calendar 

With the end of the year less than six months away, states are busy establishing their 2024 election dates. Let’s check in on where things stand. 

As of this writing, 28 states have confirmed their statewide primary dates and 30 states have confirmed their presidential preference primaries. States that have more recently confirmed their presidential primary dates include Michigan, Montana, and Hawaii (Democratic primary only). States that have recently confirmed their statewide primary dates include Illinois, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.  

When we last looked at the 2024 election calendar in the May 31 edition of this newsletter. At that point, 22 states had confirmed their statewide primary dates and 23 states had confirmed their presidential preference primaries. 

In some states, presidential preference primary elections are scheduled at the same time as statewide primaries for other offices. In others, states hold two separate elections. Of the 30 states that have confirmed presidential preference primary dates for 2024, 10 will hold their statewide primaries for other offices on the same day—Alabama, California, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.

  • South Carolina has the earliest confirmed 2024 presidential preference primary date with its Democratic Party primary scheduled for Feb. 3. 
  • Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota share the latest confirmed presidential preference primary date, June 4. 
  • Twelve other states share the most popular confirmed date, March 5, which is commonly known as Super Tuesday: Alabama, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.
  • Iowa and New Hampshire held the first presidential preference contests in the nation in 2020, on Feb. 3 and Feb. 11, respectively. Neither state has confirmed the date for its 2024 presidential preference contest. On Feb. 4 of this year, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) voted to make South Carolina’s primary the first in the country, prompting the New Hampshire Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot that would direct the secretary of state to “ensure that the presidential primary election be held seven or more days immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election.” 
  • Puerto Rico held the latest presidential primary in 2020 on July 12. Super Tuesday occurred on March 3, with 15 states holding their presidential preference primaries.
  • Alabama, California, North Carolina, and Texas share the earliest and most popular confirmed 2024 statewide primary date, March 5. Louisiana’s unique majority-vote system gives it the latest confirmed statewide primary date, Nov. 5. 

Click the link below to learn more about the 2024 election calendar. 

Keep reading 

86 candidates filed for federal and statewide offices last week

The pace of candidate filings for elections has continued to quicken in recent weeks.

Last week, 86 candidates filed to run for congressional and state offices—including for elections in 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026. That’s three more than the number who declared for congressional and state offices two weeks ago.

Between Jan. 2 and March 27, we tracked an average of 45 candidates who filed for congressional or state elections. Between March 27 and June 19, that average increased to 65 candidates.

This year, we’ve tracked 1,381 declared candidates for congressional and statewide offices. At this time in 2021, we had identified 2,518 declared candidates for 2022, 2023, and 2024 races.

Here’s a breakdown of the candidates who declared last week:

Of the partisan nature of the declared candidates: 

  • 40 are Democrats.
  • 37 are Republicans.
  • Nine are minor-party candidates.

Of the offices tracked:

  • 52 candidates filed for Congress.
  • 17 candidates filed for state legislature. 
  • 17 candidates filed for lower state executive offices.

We cover elections for tens of thousands of offices across the country, and part of that work includes keeping tabs on the candidates who file to run for those offices. We’ll periodically update you on how many candidates are signing up to run for state and congressional offices. We process both official and declared candidates.

Click here to read more about our definition of candidacy. Click the link below to see a list of all declared candidates for congressional elections in 2024. 

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