District attorney recall efforts have 10% success rate since 2010

Welcome to the Wednesday, September 6, Brew. 

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

  1. Alameda County district attorney recall is 30th such effort nationwide since 2010
  2. Biden issued two executive orders in August, bringing his total to 121
  3. Nebraska campaign to repeal tax credits for private education scholarship accounts files signatures

Alameda County district attorney recall is 30th such effort nationwide since 2010

On Aug. 15, a group of California residents filed paperwork to recall Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price—the latest effort in the Golden State to remove an elected prosecutor from office.

Last year, voters recalled San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. The following month, an effort to remove Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón failed because supporters did not collect enough signatures.

Since 2010, we’ve followed 30 recall efforts against district attorneys across 13 states. California had six such efforts during that time, followed by Washington with four. Michigan, Nebraska, and Virginia were next, with three each.

But getting these recall efforts on the ballot and actually removing a district attorney from office remains rare.

Of the 30 efforts we have identified, only three resulted in a removal: Boudin in 2022, Trempeleau County, Wisc., District Attorney Taavi McMahon in 2018, and York County, Neb., County Attorney Bill Sutter in 2011.

That gives district attorney recalls an overall success rate of 10%. Many recalls never make the ballot due to insufficient valid signatures. Election officials and courts can also deny recall petitions for formatting, language, or legal issues.

In addition to the recall effort against Price in Alameda County, we are following three other district attorney recalls in Virginia, all of which began in 2021.

Click on the links below to learn more:

Our 2022 mid-year election report looked at all recall efforts since January. From Jan. 1 to June 21, we covered 149 recall efforts against 227 officials. We found that school board recalls remained elevated compared to pre-pandemic years. In a return to historic norms, city council officials have drawn the most recall attempts so far.

You can read our full report using the link below.

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Biden issued two executive orders in August, bringing his total to 121

President Joe Biden (D) issued two executive orders in August, bringing his total to 121 since taking office in January 2021.

Looking at recent presidencies, Biden has the fourth-highest average at 45 executive orders per year, behind Bill Clinton (D) with 46, Ronald Reagan (R) with 48, and Donald Trump (R) with 55.

A century ago, presidents issued an average of more than 200 executive orders a year.

Here’s a look at the most recent executive orders:

  • Aug. 9: Directing the Treasury Department to begin making rules prohibiting or governing U.S. investments in Chinese companies that produce sensitive technologies, including semiconductors and artificial intelligence software.
  • Aug. 14: Delegating certain roles to the Secretary of Homeland Security regarding the appointment, promotion, separation, and retirement of U.S. Coast Guard commissioned officers.

The most executive orders Biden issued in one month was 25 in January 2021, his first month in office. Biden has issued at least one executive order every month since, apart from November 2022 and January 2023, when he issued none.

Since the country’s founding, Franklin Roosevelt D) issued the most executive orders, averaging 307 per year during his four terms in office.

William Henry Harrison (Whig) issued no executive orders during his one month in office.

Three presidents issued only one executive order during their respective terms: John Adams (Federalist), James Madison (Democratic-Republican), and James Monroe (Democratic-Republican).

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Nebraska campaign to repeal tax credits for private education scholarship accounts files signatures

On Aug. 30, Support Our Schools Nebraska submitted more than 117,000 signatures for a veto referendum to repeal Legislative Bill 753 (LB 753), which creates tax credits for contributions to education scholarships for students to attend private schools. These types of programs are known as tax-credit scholarship programs.

If the veto referendum qualifies for the ballot, it will go to a vote in November 2024.

The Nebraska Senate voted 33-11 to approve LB 753 on May 24. Gov. Jim Pillen (R) signed it on May 30, saying, “[W]e all believe that every Nebraska kid should have the opportunity to have their educational needs met … This law ensures that we are funding students, not systems.”

On its campaign website, Support Our Schools Nebraska says, “Voucher tax schemes like LB753 funnel money away from our already-underfunded public schools … and give tax dollars to private schools, including those that discriminate against children and their families.”

Nebraska election officials will now examine the submitted signatures to determine how many are valid.

No matter what, the tax credits created in LB 753 will take effect in the 2024 tax year.

That’s because Nebraska has two tiers when it comes to veto referendums.

To put a veto referendum on the ballot—without pausing the targeted legislation—you must submit signatures equal to 5% of the number of registered voters at the time of the signature filing deadline, or roughly 60,000 valid signatures in this case.

If you want to pause the legislation before the veto referendum goes to a vote, the threshold is 10% of the number of registered voters, or around 120,000 valid signatures, which is more than Support Our Schools Nebraska submitted.

Twenty-two states, including Nebraska, have enacted some version of a tax-credit scholarship program. This includes 14 states with Republican trifectas, six with divided governments, and two with Democratic trifectas.

The last veto referendum before Nebraskans was in 2016 when voters repealed a law banning the death penalty, 61% to 39%.

Nationwide, election officials have already certified two veto referendums for the ballot in 2024, both in California. Over the past decade, there have been an average of seven statewide veto referendums yearly.

During that same time, voters repealed 53% of the targeted legislation and upheld 47%.

We will follow this and other education-related ballot measures closely over the coming year, especially in our Hall Pass newsletter. Click here to subscribe and stay in the know with conversations driving school board politics and education policy nationwide.

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