Tagrecall

Michigan board approves circulation of recall petition against state attorney general

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on October 15 approved the petition language for a recall against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D). The board previously rejected five recall petitions against Nessel in 2020. Supporters of the recall effort need to submit 1,046,006 signatures within a 60-day period to require a recall election. The 60 days begin on the first day that signatures are collected. The recall petition must be submitted to the office of the Michigan Secretary of State no later than 180 days after it was approved by the board.

The recall petition was submitted by Chad Baase on September 25. Michigan laws state that the reason for recall must be deemed factual and clear by the Board of State Canvassers before the recall petition can be placed in circulation. The board does not document a rationale for their determination, only the judgment of rejected or approved.

The recall petition criticizes Nessel over her announced plans of ramping up efforts to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) Executive Order 2020-148. The executive order provided enhanced protections for residents and staff of long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Baase has filed 12 recall petitions against four statewide officials. Five have been approved for circulation, five were rejected in clarity hearings, and two were withdrawn.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, four statewide officials in Michigan have seen recall petitions submitted against them. In total, 31 recall petitions have targeted the four officials. In comparison, Ballotpedia tracked no recall efforts against any Michigan statewide official in 2019.

This year, Whitmer has had 20 recall petitions submitted against her. Nine of those petitions have been approved for circulation, 10 efforts were rejected, and one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner. Two recall petitions have been introduced against Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D). One petition has been approved for circulation, and the other was rejected. Three recall petitions have also been introduced against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D). One effort has been approved for circulation, one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner, and the other was rejected.

Michigan is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Whitmer was elected as Michigan’s governor in 2018 with 53.3% of the vote.

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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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Washington State Supreme Court overrules recall petition against Seattle mayor

On October 8, 2020, the Washington State Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling which allowed a recall effort against Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D).

The supreme court’s unanimous order read, “The allegations in this case are deeply troubling and our review requires that we treat the factual allegations as true. Nevertheless, after carefully considering the issues presented, the court concludes that the recall charges presented in this case are factually and legally insufficient.”

Elliott Grace, Harvey, Alan Meekins Jr., Courtney Scott, Leah Solomon, and Charlie Stone organized the recall effort.

The Washington Constitution allows for the recall of elected officials if they violate their oath of office or “in commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office.” To put a recall on the ballot, recall supporters have 180 days to collect valid signatures equal to 25% of the total vote for the office in the last regular election.

Organizers in the recall effort against Durkan began filing paperwork on June 15, 2020.

King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts ruled on July 10, 2020, that petitioners could begin gathering signatures. Roberts dismissed six of the seven charges as insufficient for a recall election. The second charge was found to be sufficient grounds for the recall effort to move forward. Recall organizers had until January 6, 2021, to gather about 54,000 valid signatures in order to put the recall election on the ballot.

The second charge of the recall petition said, “Mayor Durkan endangered the peace and safety of the community and violated her duties under RCW 35.18.200, Seattle Charter Art. V, Sec. 2, SMC 10.02.010A, and her oath to uphold US Const., Amends. 1 and 4, Washington Constitution, Art. 1 Sec. 3-5, when she failed to institute new policies and safety measures for the Seattle Police Department when using crowd control measures during a public health emergency.”

The state of Washington selects its state supreme court justices through nonpartisan elections. Of the nine members on the supreme court, five have been appointed by Democratic governors to fill vacancies on the court.

The terms of justices Raquel Montoya-Lewis, Charles W. Johnson, and Debra Stephens will expire on January 10, 2021. Additionally, Justice G. Helen Whitener was appointed to fill the vacancy created by Justice Charlie Wiggins’ retirement in March of 2020, so she will face retention election this year. The four seats are up for nonpartisan election on November 3, 2020.

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Mayoral recall election to be held in Oregon City, Oregon

A recall election is taking place on November 10 against Mayor Dan Holladay in Oregon City, Oregon. Recall organizers started the effort to recall Holladay in June after he made social media posts about police violence.

Holladay also faced criticism in April for planning to go against the stay-at-home orders issued by Governor Kate Brown in response to the coronavirus pandemic by allowing businesses in Oregon City to reopen.

Recall organizers had until September 21 to submit 2,400 valid signatures to put the recall election on the ballot. Signatures were submitted in two batches, and the total came to 3,451 signatures. On October 1, City Recorder Kattie Riggs announced that 3,037 signatures had been verified. Holladay was then given the opportunity to resign or to submit a statement of justification by October 6. Holladay submitted a statement of justification, which read:

“STAND WITH DAN — NO RECKLESS RECALL

“SERVING YOU: I’ve served as your Oregon City Mayor and Commissioner one decade with YOU THE CITIZEN as my boss. OUR DIVERSE COMMUNITY AND RESIDENTS COME FIRST.

“SIX YEARS OF CITIZEN SUCCESS: NEW LIBRARY, POLICE AND COURTS FACILITY and VOTE NO ON RECALL and we will continue my leadership for new public works facility.

“PUBLIC SAFETY. I will always stand with our excellent police officers.

“KEEP OC WORKING: Oregon City has TOP RATED ROADS: Under me as your Mayor we have delivered the best services.

“KEEP OC ON BUDGET: We’ve won awards for our financial budgeting and audits annually.

“WE WON: Great American Main Street award in 2018(the only city in Oregon to have won this award.)

“RELATIONSHIPS FOR OC SUCCESS: I have built strong relationships with the local, county, state leaders.

“RULE OF LAW: I will always stand up for the rule of law and equal treatment for ALL citizens.

“FREE CITIZENS: We all have rights to believe and say what we believe and not be ridiculed, canceled or recalled for fighting for our citizens first.

“HELP ME HELP YOU KEEP OREGON CITY A GREAT PLACE:

“VOTE No on the RECKLESS RECALL”

On June 22, Adam Marl, the campaign manager for the Committee to Recall Dan Holladay, issued a statement on the recall effort. His statement read: “The mayor’s dismissive responses to current events have put the spotlight on his past actions in office that have not received the scrutiny they deserve. When the citizens voiced their concerns, he deliberately limited constructive dialogue between his colleagues and constituents. Since then, issues of corrupt business dealings and multi-million dollar lawsuits have come to light, which prompted his fellow commissioners to censure him on two counts and order an independent investigation. Mayor Holladay has lost the faith of the city that he is attempting to lead, with even his fellow commissioners calling for his resignation. His refusal to resign for the good of the city has prompted this nonpartisan grassroots campaign to lead the concerted efforts of those who believe in a better future for Oregon City. We will fight with resolve, and will fight to win.”

The number of valid signatures required to force a recall election in Oregon is 15% of the total number of votes cast in the public officer’s electoral district for all candidates for governor at the last election at which a candidate for governor was elected to a full term. Signatures are required to be turned in no later than 90 days after the petition is filed.

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 a 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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Recall effort against Colorado Gov. Polis approved for circulation

A recall effort against Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) was approved for circulation on September 14. Supporters of the recall effort need to submit 631,266 signatures by November 13 to require a recall election.

The recall effort is being organized by Lori Ann Cutunilli and Greg Merschel. Last year, Merschel was part of a different group that tried and failed to recall Polis. The new recall effort criticizes Polis over his use of executive orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Executive orders described in the recall petition include the mask mandate and the closing of businesses and houses of worship due to the pandemic. Merschel said the following on his reasons behind the second recall effort, “He’s [Polis] ruling the state by executive order. He’s usurping the legislature.”

Polis’ office issued the following statement in response to the recall effort, “Since day one, Governor Polis has been focused on delivering real results for Coloradans across the state, and he has done just that. He has delivered on his promise to provide free full-day kindergarten to Colorado’s children regardless of zip code, fought tooth and nail to lower the cost of health care, taken bold climate action putting Colorado on the path to 100% renewable energy by 2040, and cut taxes for small businesses. Now during this unprecedented pandemic, Colorado has been a model for the country thanks to the bold and swift actions taken by Governor Polis including being one of the first states to reopen. Like the majority of Coloradans, the Governor believes that playing politics during this challenging time for our state and country is simply inappropriate and shameful.”

Colorado has a Democratic state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Democrats control the state Senate by a 19-16 margin and the state House by a 41-24 margin. Polis was elected as Colorado’s governor in 2018 with 53.4% of the vote.

Eighteen gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. Nine of those efforts are against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 21 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz recall effort under review by state supreme court

A recall effort has been filed against Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) over his mask mandate in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Minnesota Supreme Court will now review whether the grounds for recall stated in the petition are sufficient and meet statutory requirements. Two earlier efforts to recall Walz were dismissed by the supreme court because the petitions did not meet the legal standards to recall an elected official.

The ‘’Recall Governor Tim Walz’’ group said about the recall effort, “We are hopeful that court gives this petition the fair review it deserves, as we continue fighting on behalf of all freedom loving Minnesotans. As a reminder, the recall is about justice – forcing Walz to personally answer for the tyranny he has imposed for months on end, with no end in sight.” As of October 1, 2020, Walz had not made a statement regarding the recall.

Minnesota is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 35-32 margin and Democrats control the state House by a 75-59 margin. Walz was elected as Minnesota’s governor in 2018 with 53.8% of the vote.

Eighteen gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. Nine of those efforts are against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 21 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

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Gubernatorial recalls



Michigan school board recall approved to circulate petitions after earlier rejection this year

A petition seeking to recall Margaret Weertz and Chris Lee from their positions as members of the Grosse Pointe Public Schools Board of Education in Michigan was approved for circulation by the Wayne County Election Commission at a clarity hearing on September 16, 2020. This approval came after an earlier petition against the same two board members had been rejected on June 30 at another clarity hearing.

Both recall petitions were filed by Monica Palmer, a resident of Grosse Pointe Woods. On the new petition, the reasons for recall included the two board members voting in favor of the district’s reconfiguration plan, voting to approve a $2.1 million construction contract for the district’s Rocket Fiber project, and voting in favor of extending Superintendent Gary Niehaus’ contract. The reasons for recall listed on the prior petition had included the same votes. Palmer said, “There’s a handful of people that feel enough is enough. There’s a lot of them in the community feeling like they’re not being heard. They’re not liking the way the administration is taking the school system. That is the Board of Education’s job. They are supposed to be directing the administration.”

In reaction to the new recall effort, Lee said he had no intention of giving up his seat and planned to run in the recall election if it went that far. “There’s a group out there that are doing everything they can to bring down the school system. They get some delight in making trouble. This is not right,” Lee said.

Weertz said, “I never met Mrs. Palmer, and I don’t know what she has against me. It would be common courtesy if she called and told me her grievances. I actually believe this is a well-funded group that wants to undo the democratic process.”

Weertz was elected to the board in 2014 and re-elected in 2018, and Lee was first elected to the board in 2018. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect 7,646 signatures.

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 mayoral recall in Oregon City, Oregon

A recall effort has been underway since June 2020 in Oregon City, Oregon, to recall Mayor Dan Holladay over restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Recall organizers had until September 21 to submit 2,400 valid signatures to put the recall election on the ballot. They submitted signatures in two batches, with the total number coming to 3,451.

City Recorder Kattie Riggs said the signature verification process would be complete by October 1. If enough signatures are verified, the recall election would likely take place on November 10. If voters remove Holladay from office, a special election would take place in March 2021 to fill the seat.

On June 22, Adam Marl, the campaign manager for the Committee to Recall Dan Holladay, issued the following statement on the recall effort: “The mayor’s dismissive responses to current events have put the spotlight on his past actions in office that have not received the scrutiny they deserve. When the citizens voiced their concerns, he deliberately limited constructive dialogue between his colleagues and constituents. Since then, issues of corrupt business dealings and multi-million dollar lawsuits have come to light, which prompted his fellow commissioners to censure him on two counts and order an independent investigation. Mayor Holladay has lost the faith of the city that he is attempting to lead, with even his fellow commissioners calling for his resignation. His refusal to resign for the good of the city has prompted this nonpartisan grassroots campaign to lead the concerted efforts of those who believe in a better future for Oregon City. We will fight with resolve, and will fight to win.”

The number of valid signatures required to force a recall election in Oregon is 15% of the total number of votes cast in the public officer’s electoral district for all candidates for governor at the last election at which a candidate for governor was elected to a full term. Signatures are required to be turned in no later than 90 days after the petition is filed.

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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Washington sheriff files appeal against recall effort with state supreme court

A petition seeking to recall John Snaza from his position as sheriff of Thurston County, Washington was approved for circulation by Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton on July 29, 2020. Snaza filed an appeal against that decision with the Washington Supreme Court. The court will review the appeal in December 2020, according to The Olympian.

The recall effort started after the sheriff’s office released a statement on June 24, 2020, saying “it would be inappropriate for deputies to criminally enforce” the state’s mandate to wear a mask in public places. Recall supporters said the sheriff’s statement was impeding the efforts of state and city governments to protect the public. Snaza said it was his intent to educate people about the law rather than arrest them.

If Snaza’s appeal is rejected, recall supporters will have 180 days to collect 23,027 signatures in order to get the recall on the ballot.

Two other sheriff recall efforts have been appealed with the Washington Supreme Court in 2020. The court ruled that a recall effort against Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney could begin circulating petitions on September 10, and it is scheduled to hear the appeal of Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher on November 5.

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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