Esteban Bovo Jr., Daniella Levine Cava running in Miami-Dade County’s mayoral election

Esteban Bovo Jr. and Daniella Levine Cava are running in the nonpartisan general election for Mayor of Miami-Dade County on November 3, 2020. In the August nonpartisan primary, Bovo and Levine Cava advanced with 29.5% and 28.6% of the vote, respectively.

Though the race is nonpartisan, the candidates have received partisan support, with Republican organizations endorsing Bovo and Democratic organizations endorsing Levine Cava. The office was last held by a Democratic-aligned candidate in 2004. In 2016, incumbent Carlos Gimenez, a Republican, won re-election 48% to 32%.

Both candidates currently serve as Miami-Dade County commissioners. Bovo said his priorities include supporting small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, investing in law enforcement, and investing in infrastructure and transportation projects. Levine Cava said her priorities include supporting working people during the coronavirus pandemic, addressing climate change, and investing in infrastructure.

According to the Miami-Dade County website, the mayor “is Miami-Dade’s highest-ranking elected official and chief administrator, who oversees a metropolitan government with 28,417 employees, an annual budget of approximately $8.9 billion, and serving 2.7 million residents.” The seat of the county is Miami.

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Mayoral election in Miami-Dade County, Florida (2020)
Municipal elections in Miami-Dade County, Florida (2020)

What happened in two redo elections in 2020?

In 2020, Ballotpedia has identified two elections where the results have been voided and a redo election scheduled in their place: a city council election in Paterson, New Jersey, and a sheriff election in Iron County, Missouri.

A redo election, also known as a revote or special election remedy, is the process of voiding election results and holding a new election. The specific reasons for calling a redo election vary, but might include deliberate efforts to obscure the results such as electoral fraud or mistakes like a broken voting machine.

Typically, states or courts call a redo election only after an interested party—normally a candidate, voter, or election official—contests the election results. While most states have provisions describing how to handle contested elections, these provisions do not normally specify what to do if fraud or mistakes occur.

Most redo elections, like the two described below, take place at the municipal or county level. The most recent redo election for a federal office took place in 2019 in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The last federal redo election before that was in 1974.

Paterson, N.J., city council election

Five candidates—incumbent councilman William McKoy, Chauncey Brown, Sharrieff Bugg, Alex Mendez, and Robyn Spencer—ran in the May 12 city council election for the 3rd Ward in Paterson, New Jersey. Initial results showed Mendez defeating McKoy with 1,595 votes to McKoy’s 1,350, a 245 vote margin. A recount narrowed the margin to 240 votes. Election officials conducted the election entirely by-mail due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On June 14, McKoy contested the election results alleging absentee/mail-in electoral fraud in the form of ballots submitted on behalf of voters who later alleged they never received absentee/mail-in ballots. During the May 12 election, election officials rejected 24% of absentee/mail-in ballots in the 3rd Ward compared to 10% s.

On Aug. 16, Passaic County Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela voided the May 12 election and ordered a redo election for Nov. 3, 2020.

Iron County, Mo., sheriff election

Incumbent Roger Medley, Ryan Burkett, Brian Matthiesen, Ben Starnes, and James Womble participated in the Aug. 4 Republican primary for sheriff in Iron County, Missouri. Burkett defeated Medley by 73 votes.

Medley contested the election, alleging the usage of incorrect ballots, a voting machine missing part of its tally tape, and violations of state law such as the mother-in-law of one candidate working as an election judge.

On Aug. 27, Iron County Circuit Judge Kelly Parker voided the election results and set a redo primary election for Sept. 22. Burkett defeated Medley in the redo primary election receiving 42% of the vote to Medley’s 27%.

Voters to decide Idaho school board recall election Nov. 3

An effort to recall Aaron Proctor from his position as the Zone 3 representative of the Whitepine School District board of trustees in Idaho is on the ballot on November 3, 2020.

The effort began after the board voted 3-1 on August 11, 2020, to require face coverings in classrooms and on buses whenever social distancing is not feasible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Proctor was one of the three members who voted in favor of the requirement. A survey sent to parents in the Whitepine School District showed approximately 62% of parents were against the district requiring face coverings when social distancing is not feasible, and 67% of parents were against requiring face coverings at all times.

Recall supporters said Proctor had failed to represent the desires expressed by district parents, put his personal feelings ahead of the wishes of his constituents, conducted himself unprofessionally on social media, and compromised the quality of education for district students.

In response to the recall effort, Proctor said, “Trustees have a responsibility to provide safe and healthy learning environment for our students. It’s unfortunate minimizing the chances of a student or staff member catching and possibly dying from COVID-19 is controversial, but it is undoubtedly the right thing to do.”

Proctor has served on the board for 16 years. The recall effort was approved for the November 3 ballot after 59 petition signatures from registered voters in Zone 3 were verified. 

Three other school board recall efforts are currently underway in Idaho. Recall petitions are circulating in the Idaho Falls, Pocatello-Chubbuck, and West Ada school districts. All three of them were started in response to the school districts’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Signatures submitted for recall effort in Avon, Colorado

An effort in Avon, Colorado, to recall Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and Councilmembers Amy Phillips and Tamra Underwood was initiated in August 2020. Recall organizers had until October 12 to submit 496 valid signatures for each official. There were about 600 signatures submitted against Hymes and Underwood on the day of the deadline. On October 19, Avon Town Clerk Brenda Torres announced that not enough valid signatures had been submitted. Torres found 425 signatures valid in the recall effort against Underwood. There were 445 signatures validated against Hymes. Recall organizers have until November 3 to challenge Torres’ decision.

The recall against Phillips was found invalid because she is up for re-election on November 3.

The recall effort was initiated in response to the Avon Town Council deciding to leave in place a 2% real estate transfer tax, which collects $2.5 million annually. In a press release sent to Vail Daily, the recall committee organizing the effort said that the tax “puts Avon property sellers at a huge disadvantage when compared to our neighboring communities.”

In response to the recall effort, Hymes said, “Two of the people involved in this recall ran for election last time. They could have run candidates in the 2020 election, but they didn’t think they could succeed, so they’re choosing this backdoor way. They are wasting an enormous amount of town resources in pursuit of this.”

Underwood said about the recall effort, “I essentially find it nothing but an intimidation and bullying tool to discourage people from running for council in Avon, in particular female people running for council in Avon.”

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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County approves circulation of recall petition against two Idaho Falls school board members

A petition to recall two of the five members of the Idaho Falls School District 91 board of trustees in Idaho were approved for circulation on October 16, 2020, by the Bonneville County Clerk’s Office. The petition named board chairman and Zone 3 representative Lara Hill and Zone 5 representative Hillary Radcliffe. Zone 4 representative Elizabeth Cogliati is also included in the same recall effort, but the petition against her had not been approved for circulation as of October 23.

The effort began after the board of trustees voted 3-2 on September 30, 2020, to move high schools in the district from in-person instruction five days a week to a mix of in-person instruction two days a week and online instruction the other three days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hill, Radcliffe, and Cogliati voted in favor of the change in instruction, while trustees Paul Haacke and Larry Haws voted against.

Superintendent George Boland said the goal for the change in instruction was to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and related quarantines and absences at the high schools. The school district had reported 90 coronavirus cases among students and staff between the beginning of the school year and October 9, 2020. Recall supporters said the district’s online classes were low quality and putting students at a disadvantage.

Hill was first appointed to the board of trustees in September 2018 and later elected in November 2019. Radcliffe was appointed to the board in June 2019, and Cogliati was elected to the board in November 2019.

To get the recall against Hill on the ballot, supporters must collect at least 480 signatures from registered voters. To get the recall against Radcliffe on the ballot, supporters must collect at least 1,400 signatures. If the petition against Cogliati is approved for circulation, supporters will need at least 280 signatures to put the recall on the ballot. The number of signatures needed is equal to 50% of the votes cast at the last election in the zone the trustees represent. 

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Both candidates in Los Angeles’ District Attorney election complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Survey

Incumbent Jackie Lacey and George Gascón are running in the nonpartisan general election for Los Angeles District Attorney. Both candidates completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Survey. Ballotpedia asks all federal, state, and local candidates to complete a survey so voters can discover what motivates them on political and personal levels.

When asked what areas of public policy they were most passionate about, the candidates’ responses included:

Lacey: “The single biggest issue facing our criminal justice system and our County is how we deal with people suffering from mental illness within the court system. […] I founded and lead the pioneering Criminal Justice Mental Health Project in LA County, which has set priorities for a comprehensive mental health diversion plan that provides alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders.”

Gascón: “I am committed to ending mass incarceration. […] While serving as District Attorney of San Francisco, I worked tirelessly to reduce jail and prison populations, and tackle bias by keeping demographic information about suspects from prosecutors as they decide whether to bring charges.”

We asked the candidates, “What was your very first job? How long did you have it?”

Lacey: “My first job was as a sales clerk at a local Sears. I worked there for two years as a minimum wage employee. The experience was grueling at times, to say the least! I continued to work jobs like this in order to help get me through college and eventually law school.”

Gascón: “In high school, I worked 20 hours a week as a “box boy” at a local supermarket. Though only 14 at the time, I pretend to be 16 to satisfy the minimum age requirement. As it was a union job, I actually made more than my parents did, allowing me to help support my family.”

In 2018, 1,957 candidates completed a Candidate Connection survey. This number represents 6.9% of all 28,315 candidates Ballotpedia covered during that cycle. Out of the 1,957 respondents, 477 (24.4%) won their elections.

To read the candidates’ responses and learn more about the race, click here: 

District Attorney election in Los Angeles County, California (2020)

To read more about Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here:

Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection

Signatures verified for municipal recall effort in Granite Shoals, Texas

An effort in Granite Shoals, Texas, to recall Mayor Carl Brugger and Councilman Bruce Jones was approved for the ballot after petitioners submitted enough valid signatures. The recall election against Jones will be held on May 1, 2021. Brugger resigned on Oct. 13, 2020, four days after the signatures were verified.

Brugger cited the recall effort as a reason for his resignation. He wrote in his resignation letter that he hoped that stepping down would reduce tensions in the city. Brugger was first elected in 2015 and would have been unable to run for re-election in 2021 due to term limits.

The recall effort was initiated by the Citizens’ Rights Group of Granite Shoals in August 2020 in response to a unanimous vote by the city council on Aug. 4 to give City Manager Jeff Looney a $37,000 raise and four weeks of vacation. On Aug. 11, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Davant made a motion to rescind the pay increase. The motion was seconded by Councilman Ron Munos, but the motion failed by a 5-2 vote. Brugger, Jones and Councilmembers Libby Edwards, Steve Hougen and Will Skinner voted against the motion.

Davant defended the decision to vote in favor of a raise for Looney. He said, “He’s done an excellent job. He has 34 years of experience, and he has a good education. We did a survey with a third party. They came back with midpoints, minimums, and maximums. When we looked, Jeff Looney was at rock bottom. I know people are critiquing us. It’s easy to pick cities in West Texas (to compare to Granite Shoals). Those cities aren’t adjacent to Austin and to us, and they don’t have the cost of living we have here.”

Recall organizers were required to submit valid signatures equal to 6.5% of the city’s registered voters—152 signatures—to force a recall election. On Oct. 9, 2020, City Secretary Elaine Smith announced that 186 signatures were found valid out of the 221 signatures handed in.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Results of Mississippi special general runoff elections

Special general runoff elections were held for Mississippi State Senate Districts 15 and 39 and Mississippi House of Representatives Districts 37 and 66 on Oct. 13, 2020. In Mississippi, special elections for state legislative offices are nonpartisan. The special general election for the four districts was held on Sept. 22, 2020. The filing deadline passed on Aug. 3, 2020.

In Senate District 15, Bart Williams won the special election with 53.6% of the vote and defeated Joyce Meek Yates. The special election was called after Gary Jackson (R) resigned on June 30, 2020. Jackson served from 2004 to 2020.

In Senate District 39, Jason Barrett won with 56.1% of the vote and defeated Bill Sones. The special election was called after Sally Doty (R) left office to become the executive director of the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff. She resigned on July 15, 2020. Doty served from 2012 to 2020.

In House District 37, Lynn Wright won with 63.8% of the vote and defeated David Chism. The special election was called after Gary Chism (R) resigned on June 30, 2020. Gary Chism served from 2000 to 2020.

In House District 66, De’Keither Stamps won with 61.5% of the votes and defeated Bob Lee Jr. The special election was called after Jarvis Dortch (D) resigned on July 2, 2020. Dortch served from 2016 to 2020.

As of October 2020, 59 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 27 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Mississippi has held 36 state legislative special elections between 2010 and 2019.

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Two Wisconsin school board members named in recall petition after voting to continue virtual learning

An effort to recall Robert Hesselbein and Minza Karim from their positions on the Middleton-Cross Plains School District Board of Education in Wisconsin began in October 2020. The effort started after the board voted 5-4 on September 28, 2020, to keep students in virtual learning for the rest of the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other option, which did not pass, would have allowed students in pre-school through second grade to return to in-person instruction starting on November 2, 2020. Hesselbein and Karim were two of the five members who voted in favor of continuing virtual learning. 

The recall effort was started by the group Parents for Change. Angela Rachidi, an organizer of the group, said that the board members’ votes to continue virtual learning did not represent the wants and needs of the community. She also said that virtual learning did not support an equitable education. 

Both Hesselbein and Karim both said they stood by their votes. Hesselbein said that though he understood families’ frustrations, safety had to come first while COVID-19 cases were rising in the county and the state. Karim said she voted to keep schooling virtual “for the sake of safety and health for the students, staff and the entire community.”

The Middleton-Cross Plains Board of Education has nine members. Hesselbein is one of the four Area IV representatives of the board, and Karim is the Area III representative of the board. Both of them have terms ending in 2022. 

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect approximately 5,000 signatures in 60 days. The number of signatures is equal to 25% of the votes cast for governor in the school district in the 2018 election.

Hesselbein and Karim are not the only school board members included in a recall effort in Wisconsin this year. An effort to recall three of the seven members of the Appleton Area School District Board of Education began in September 2020. That effort also centers around the board’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Andy King expelled from New York City Council

The New York City Council voted 48-2 on October 5 to expel Councilman Andy King (D) for harassment and discrimination, conflicts of interest, disorderly conduct, and other violations. King represented the 12th district and was first elected in 2012.

A two-thirds vote is required to expel a city council member. The city council press office confirmed that this is the first time a council member has been voted off the council without a criminal conviction. King filed a lawsuit on October 5 in federal court challenging his expulsion.

The council’s Committee on Standards and Ethics had previously brought ethics investigations against King in February 2018 and in October 2019. The 2019 proceeding resulted in a 30-day suspension for King and a $15,000 fine. The council vote to expel King in that matter was defeated, 34-12.

In a statement, Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, “I agree with the recommendations of the Standard and Ethics Committee. Council Member King should be expelled from office. This is not a decision to be made lightly, but Council Member King has given us no alternative.”

King’s attorney filed suit against the council in federal court on October 5, 2020. King said, “Plaintiff is the first in the history of the New York City Council to be expelled without a separate concurrent criminal conviction.”

The New York City Council is composed of 51 members. The current partisan composition is 46 Democrats and three Republicans with two vacancies. The city’s charter requires Mayor Bill de Blasio to schedule a special election to fill the vacancy left by King.

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