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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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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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Majority of Idaho school board named in recall petition

An effort to recall three of the five members of the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District No. 25 board of trustees in Idaho began on September 18, 2020, when recall supporters filed paperwork with the Bannock County Elections Office. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must submit recall petitions to the elections office by December 1.

Zone 1 representative Jackie Cranor, Zone 2 representative Janie Gebhardt, and Zone 5 representative Dave Mattson were named in the recall petitions after the board unanimously voted to continue using a hybrid teaching model (two days in-person and three days online) for middle school and high school students for the remainder of the first trimester of the 2020-2021 school year. The district started the hybrid model due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recall supporters said the board was not fully representing the electorate on the issue of hybrid learning and other issues. The school district released a statement saying that the board weighs a number of factors when making decisions and that majority opinion does not always rule.

To get the recall effort against Cranor on the ballot, supporters must collect 164 signatures from registered voters in Zone 1. To get the recall effort against Gebhardt on the ballot, supporters must collect 351 signatures from Zone 2, and to recall Mattson, they must collect 206 signatures from Zone 5. If the recall election makes the ballot, at least as many voters who first put the board members in office must vote to recall them in order for the recall election to be successful. The recall against Cranor would need 279 votes in favor, the recall against Gebhardt would need 417 votes in favor, and the recall against Mattson would need 278 votes in favor.

Cranor, Gebhardt, and Mattson were also included in a 2018 recall effort against all five members who served on the board at the time. That effort started after the board voted to end the district’s 20-year-old open enrollment policy that allowed students to choose which high school they attended. The leader of that recall put the effort on hold before the deadline to submit petitions.

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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Ballot deadline for November election passes in Boise recall effort

Efforts in Boise, Idaho, to recall Mayor Lauren McLean and Councilmember Lisa Sanchez were initiated in July 2020. The deadline to put the recalls on the November 2020 ballot was August 28. Recall organizers did not meet that deadline but said they were not trying to get the recalls on the November ballot. The earliest the recall elections can be on the ballot is now March 2021. The deadline to submit signatures in the recall against McLean is September 30, and the deadline for the recall against Sanchez is October 5.

The recall efforts are being organized by Karene Alton and Joe Filicetti. Alton and Filicetti have accused McLean of being dishonest in the way she campaigned for election. Filicetti also cited COVID-19 shutdown orders, failure to support police, and the contents of a report from the mayor’s transition team after she was elected as reasons to recall McLean. The effort to recall Sanchez was initiated in response to statements she made about an 18-year-old who was arrested for firing his rifle in city limits while counter-protesting Black Lives Matter in June 2020.

McLean responded to the recall campaign against her when the recall effort was still unofficial. She said, “That’s an information collecting effort that everybody has a right to do. I remain focused on ensuring that I am working with an economic recovery task force, that we are partnering with businesses and other agencies to support our community as we recover. We are focused on ensuring that Boise remains Boise. Now, and into the future.”

A recall election for a city official requires valid signatures equal to at least 20 percent of the number of electors registered to vote at the last general city election held in the city for the election of officers. Circulation of the recall petition must be completed within 75 days after the form of the recall petition is approved for circulation. Recall organizers are required to submit 26,108 valid signatures for the recalls against McLean and Sanchez.

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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Idaho county commission recall elections defeated despite majority of votes in favor

A recall election seeking to remove Rick Ellis and Roy Hubert from their positions as Lincoln County Commissioners in Idaho was held on August 25, 2020. Though 73% of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling the two commissioners, both recalls were defeated. In order to be approved, the recalls needed at least as many votes as the officeholders received when they were elected. A minimum of 710 votes in favor of recall was needed to remove Ellis from office, and 704 were cast. A minimum of 833 votes was needed to remove Hubert from office, and 698 were cast.

The recall effort began after the two commissioners voted to build a new courthouse in a different location in the county. Recall supporters said they were seeking recall due to a “willful disregard for the wishes and desires of the public” and “deliberately ignoring the results of two public surveys regarding the renovation of the courthouse.”

Ellis said the issues surrounding the courthouse started when the community took a survey detailing what they wanted in regards to renovations. He said that the survey results showed that “they wanted to renovate the existing courthouse and build a new, approximately 12,000 square foot annex.” He said that the same survey showed that residents would vote in favor of a bond for that project. However, when it came time to vote, “fifty-one percent showed up to support the bond, and it failed. Because it took a super majority of 67 percent to win,” Ellis said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit petitions with 442 signatures by April 3. They submitted 608 signatures on the deadline, and the county verified 563.

Ellis was first elected to the three-member commission in 2018. Hubert was appointed to the commission in 2011 by Gov. Butch Otter (R), and he retained his seat in elections in 2012 and 2016.

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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Idaho county commission recall election to be held August 25

A recall election seeking to remove Rick Ellis and Roy Hubert from their positions as Lincoln County Commissioners in Idaho is scheduled for August 25, 2020. The effort began after the two commissioners voted to build a new courthouse in a different location in the county. Recall supporters said they were seeking recall due to a “willful disregard for the wishes and desires of the public” and “deliberately ignoring the results of two public surveys regarding the renovation of the courthouse.”

Ellis said the issues surrounding the courthouse started when the community took a survey detailing what they wanted in regards to renovations. He said that the survey results showed that “they wanted to renovate the existing courthouse and build a new, approximately 12,000 square foot annex.” He said that the same survey showed that residents would vote in favor of a bond for that project. However, when it came time to vote, “fifty-one percent showed up to support the bond, and it failed. Because it took a super majority of 67 percent to win,” Ellis said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit petitions with 442 signatures by April 3. They submitted 608 signatures on the deadline, and the county verified 563.

Ellis was first elected to the three-member commission in 2018. Hubert was appointed to the commission in 2011 by Gov. Butch Otter (R), and he retained his seat in elections in 2012 and 2016.

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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Oregon Secretary of State verifies 59,000 signatures for redistricting initiative; courts to decide if it’s enough to qualify

On July 30, 2020, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced that People Not Politicians, the campaign behind the Independent State and Congressional Redistricting Commission Initiative, had submitted 59,493 valid signatures. People Not Politicians submitted its first batch of 64,172 unverified signatures on July 13. The campaign submitted an additional 1,819 signatures on July 17 and 1,063 signatures on July 24 for a total of 67,054 unverified signatures. The signature validity rate for the petition was 88.7%.

A federal judge ruled on July 10 that Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R) had to place the measure on the ballot or lower the threshold to 58,789 signatures and extend the signature deadline to August 17. The reduced number of signatures of 58,789 is equal to the required amount for 2018 veto referendum petitions. The original deadline was July 2, and the required number of signatures was 149,360 valid signatures.

People Not Politicians filed the lawsuit against the state seeking relief from the signature deadline and requirements on June 30. The state appealed the federal court’s decision allowing the campaign to submit signatures after the original deadline. On July 23, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Oregon’s request for an emergency stay on the lower court’s ruling.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) filed an emergency stay with the U.S. Supreme Court on July 29 that has not been decided yet. A panel of the 9th Circuit Court is expected to hear oral arguments for the lawsuit on August 13. It will also be hearing oral arguments for a similar initiative lawsuit in Idaho on the same day. Reclaim Idaho, the sponsors of the Idaho Income Tax Increases for Education Funding Initiative, filed the lawsuit back in June and a federal judge allowed the campaign to gather electronic signatures and have extra time to gather signatures. On July 30, the Supreme Court granted an emergency stay on the judge’s order.

The Oregon initiative would amend the Oregon Constitution to establish a 12-member redistricting commission. If the initiative qualifies for the ballot, it will be the third initiative appearing on the November ballot in Oregon. The Oregon Secretary of State certified the Psilocybin Program Initiative and the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative for the ballot after both met the original July 2 deadline and submitted more than the required number of valid signatures (112,020).

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Reclaim Idaho suspends signature drive after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Idaho state officials

On July 30, the U.S. Supreme Court put on hold a previous ruling allowing for electronic signatures and delaying a signature deadline. The court ruled in favor of Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) and granted an emergency stay on a lower court’s order until the appeal process is finalized. The lower court’s ruling had allowed Reclaim Idaho, the sponsors of the Idaho Income Tax Increases for Education Funding Initiative, to gather signatures electronically and extended the signature deadline.

Reclaim Idaho’s initiative was designed to increase the income tax rate for individuals with incomes above $250,000; increase the corporate income tax rate; and create and fund the Quality Education Fund.

In a statement posted to the campaign’s Facebook page, Luke Mayville of Reclaim Idaho said, “We are shocked that the Court has made this extraordinary intervention rather than let the normal appeals process run its course. … Regretfully, we see no other option than to suspend our signature drive.”

Chief Justice Roberts was joined by Justice Alito, Justice Gorsuch, and Justice Kavanaugh in granting the emergency stay that applies to all previous lower court orders in the case. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented. The published opinion and dissent did not state how Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan voted. The dissenting judges argued that the Court had intervened too early in the appeal process.

In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “[T]he State is likely to suffer irreparable harm absent a stay. Right now, the preliminary injunction disables Idaho from vindicating its sovereign interest in the enforcement of initiative requirements that are likely consistent with the First Amendment.” He added, “Nothing in the Constitution requires Idaho or any other state to provide for ballot initiatives. And the claims at issue here challenge the application of only the most typical sort of neutral regulations on ballot access.”

In response to the ruling, Governor Little said, “I am pleased that the Supreme Court upheld Idaho’s sovereignty over its election and initiative processes. It is important that initiatives follow the laws set by the Idaho Legislature so we can ensure those initiatives that get on the ballot are legitimate and have significant support throughout Idaho.”

Reclaim Idaho filed the lawsuit back in June arguing that the state’s social distancing restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus had made it impossible for the campaign to collect signatures, and therefore the state violated the petitioners’ First Amendment rights. A U.S. district judge granted Reclaim Idaho a preliminary injunction that gave the campaign 48 more days to gather signatures and temporary permission to use electronic signatures. The governor appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied his emergency stay request but expedited the hearing process. The court is expected to hear oral arguments on August 13.

Thirteen of the 26 states that permit statewide initiative and/or referendum featured at least one lawsuit challenging ballot measure deadlines and signature requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic. The subjects of the lawsuits include the use of electronic signatures, notarization requirements, signature deadlines, and signature requirements.

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U.S. District Court ruled that Idaho must allow Reclaim Idaho to collect electronic signatures or put the group’s initiative on the ballot directly

On June 23, 2020, United States District Court Judge Lynn Winmill ruled that Idaho officials must do one of two things: (a) allow Reclaim Idaho, sponsors of the Idaho Income Tax Increases for Education Funding Initiative, to gather signatures electronically, or (b) place the ballot initiative on the November ballot themselves. Judge Winmill concluded that the state restrictions in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus infringed on petitioners’ First Amendment rights to place an initiative on the ballot.

Luke Mayville, a co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, said, “This court decision is a major victory for the kids of Idaho, for the working families of Idaho who want to give their kids a chance to succeed and, maybe more than anything, this decision is a major victory for the constitutional right of every Idaho citizen to petition their government.” The campaign had collected 30,000 signatures out of the 55,000 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot before suspending its campaign in March.

The judge gave state officials until Friday to decide how the state would proceed. Governor Brad Little (R) and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) responded to the ruling in a statement saying, “This decision is a surprising exercise of judicial activism. We plan to appeal this decision immediately.”

Reclaim Idaho filed the lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction to grant the campaign 48 more days to gather signatures and temporary permission to use electronic signatures. The campaign announced on March 18 that they were suspending its signature drive. The 48-day extension equals the number of days between the date the campaign suspended its signature drive and the original May 1 signature deadline.

The measure was designed to increase the income tax rate for individuals with incomes above $250,000, increase the corporate income tax rate, and create and funded the Quality Education Fund.

Twelve of the 26 states that permit statewide initiative and/or referendum feature at least one lawsuit challenging ballot measure deadlines and requirements. The subjects of the lawsuits include the use of electronic signatures, notarization requirements, signature deadlines, and signature requirements.

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Reclaim Idaho filed a lawsuit seeking more time to gather signatures and permission to use electronic signatures

Reclaim Idaho, sponsors of the Idaho Income Tax Increases for Education Funding Initiative, filed a lawsuit against Governor Brad Little (R) and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) seeking a preliminary injunction to grant the campaign 48 more days to gather signatures and temporary permission to use electronic signatures. The campaign announced on March 18 that it was suspending its signature drive. The 48-day extension equals the number of days between the date the campaign suspended its signature drive and the original May 1 signature deadline.

The campaign argued in the lawsuit, which was filed in the District Court of Idaho, that the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus made it impossible for the campaign to collect signatures, and therefore the state violated the petitioners’ First Amendment rights to petition the government. In announcing the lawsuit, Reclaim Idaho said, “We don’t object to the Governor’s actions to protect public health. But the Governor and Secretary of State have a responsibility to provide alternative, safe means for collecting signatures during a deadly pandemic. We should not be forced to choose between public safety and our First Amendment rights to petition our government.”

The measure was designed to increase the income tax rate for individuals with incomes above $250,000, increase the corporate income tax rate, and create and fund the Quality Education Fund.

No Idaho initiative campaigns submitted signatures by the May 1 deadline. Two other ballot measures—the Minimum Wage Increase Initiative and the Medical Marijuana Initiative—cleared for signature gathering by the Idaho Secretary of State. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, both campaigns announced that they were suspending their signature drives prior to the signature deadline.

At least 14 lawsuits challenging ballot measure deadlines and requirements were filed in 11 of the 26 states that permit statewide initiative and/or referendum processes. The subjects of the lawsuits include the use of electronic signatures, notarization requirements, signature deadlines, and signature requirements.

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