The citizens of California
are granted the authority to perform a recall election
by Article 2, Sections 13-19
of the California Constitution
The authority to conduct a recall election in California only applies to politicians at the state and local levels; as with most states, the right of recall in California does not extend to recalling federal politicians. In California, citizens can recall "judges of courts of appeal and trial courts".
- Main article: California signature requirements
The amount of valid signatures required to force a recall election are:
- For statewide officers, 12% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled, 1% from each of 5 counties.
- All others, 20% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled.
The University of California's Institute for Governmental Studies says this about the process:
- The first step in a recall effort is the circulation of recall petitions. The process begins with the filing of a notice-of-intent-to-recall petition written in the proper legal language and signed by 65 voters. Once that is accomplished, the recall petition can be circulated in earnest. Petitions for the recall of statewide officers must be signed by voters equal in number to 12% of the last vote for that office, including voters from each of five counties equal in number to 1% of the last vote for the office in that county. Petitions for the recall of state legislators must equal in number to 20% of the last vote for the office.
- The recall ballot has two components: a yes or no vote for recall, and the names of replacement candidates, selected by the nomination process used in regular elections. The recall measure itself is successful if it passes by a majority. In that case, the replacement candidate with a simple plurality of votes wins the office. If the recall measure fails, the replacement candidate votes are ignored.
- The language in the recall provision is strictly procedural. Substantive grounds for recalls are not specified. Recalls can be launched to remove corrupt officials, and to remove officials whose policies and performance are found wanting. The recall is but one of several mechanisms for removing public officers. Others include the normal criminal process, impeachment, term limits, and, of course, the next election.
- Main article: Gray Davis recall (2003)
Possibly the most famous recall election in history took place in California in October 2003, when Governor Gray Davis was recalled and Arnold Schwarzenegger took his place. The event was widely publicized in the national media due to both California's size and importance, as well as the fact that many famous celebrities, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, were running to replace Gray Davis.
General Information - Elections Division
Secretary of State's Office
1500 11th Street, 5th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 657-2166
Fax: (916) 653-3214