Ballotpedia:WikiProject Recall/Writing guidelines

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See also: Ballotpedia:WikiProject Recall

This page is a set of writing guidelines for articles related to recall.

Articles about specific recalls

Title of article

The title of the article should be in one of these formats:

Use the last format when so many different individuals are targeted in the recall that the title of the article will be too unwieldy if you use all their names. Examples would be "Capistrano Unified School District recall, California (2010)" or "Peoria City Council recall, Illinois (2011)."

Changing the year:

The (year) component of the title should refer to the year during which the actual recall election is scheduled or took place. However, when a recall is launched, and no election has yet been scheduled, typically you will use the current year. (If you start the article in November or December and it is clear to you that if the effort qualifies for the ballot, the election will be in the subsequent year, use the coming year in your title.)

If and when an election is scheduled, the year of that election may be different that the year in the title. If that happens, you should change the name of the article so that the year in the title reflects the year of the election.

Changing the list of targets:

If multiple people were originally indicated as being targeted in the recall, it is pretty common for not all of those individuals to end up on the ballot, even if some of them do. At any point that you realize that one of the original targets of the recall is no longer targeted by the recall supporters, or if the recall organizers did not get enough signatures to qualify the recall question for that particular person for the ballot, you should change the name of the article to reflect the current, actual, list of recall targets.


The introductory sentence of an article about a recall campaign needs to change over time to reflect the current status of the recall effort. The reader should be able to tell, from the first two sentences, what the current status is.

Here are the preferred formats for a variety of different points in a recall campaign:

  • An effort to recall Name, Name and Name from their positions as (name of political office) in (name of political jurisdiction) is underway as of Month, Year. (Use this format when you know that a recall effort is underway but you don't know when it was launched.)
  • An effort to recall Name from his position as (name of political office) of (name of political jurisdiction) was launched in August 2013. Supporters of the recall are currently circulating petitions in order to qualify the recall question for the ballot.
  • An effort to recall Name from her position as (name of political office) of (name of political jurisdiction) was launched in August 2013. The effort to qualify the recall question for the ballot was, however, abandoned short of going to a vote.
  • An effort to recall Name from his position as (name of political office) of (name of political jurisdiction) is underway. Recall supporters have submitted signatures to election officials to force a vote on the proposed recall and are awaiting verification of the signatures.
  • An effort to recall Name from his position as (name of political office) of (name of political jurisdiction) is underway. Election authorities have certified that signatures submitted to them on recall petitions are sufficient to force a recall vote but the date for the election has not yet been set.
  • A vote about whether to recall Name from his position as (name of political office) of (name of jurisdiction) is scheduled for {day, date of election) for voters in (name of jurisdiction).
  • A vote about whether to recall Name from his position as (name of political office) of (name of jurisdiction) took place on {day, date of election). Name was recalled (or Name was retained in his/her seat.)

After the introductory 1-2 sentences, you should include some information about who is leading or organizing the recall effort and one or two of their main motivations for the recall, as well as other information that you can tell from your assessment of the situation clearly belongs in the introductory section of the article.

Be aware that at times, recall efforts are launched because allegations of wrongdoing have been made against the elected official. The recall organizers, not infrequently, refer to these allegations as if they had been proven in a court of law, or were demonstrably true. However, it is very important that you clarify that whatever the allegations are, they are just allegations at this point. Use words like "alleged." There are times, however, where a court has in fact convicted the recall target of something. In that case, you can say that, as long as you provide a reliable source. At other times, there is a criminal complaint outstanding or an indictment. You should be very careful in describing the status of any such indictments or criminal complaints since they, too, fall short of a conviction.

The organizers of the recall may be extremely persuaded that the target of the recall has engaged in misfesance or malfeasance, and they may use very strong language to convey this point. Make sure that it is always clear to the reader, when you repeat any of this language, that it was said by the organizers of the recall, not by you, the writer of the article. Also, if the target of the recall has denied the claims, make sure to include that denial as well.

Election results

The section labeled "Election results" is going to be different from state-to-state because in some states, the ballot question is only about whether to recall the recall target, while in other states, on that same ballot, there is also a question about who should replace the recall target, if that person is recalled. (In states where this is not the case, a special election to fill the seat made vacant by a successful recall is scheduled later on.)

Recall vote

{{Recall outcome
|title = 
|recall = 
|retain = 


Recall question here
Approveda Recall19,35556.01%

Replacement vote

{{Recall outcome
|replace = 
|title = 
|winner = 
|1words = 
|1vote = 
|2words = 
|2vote = 
|3words = 
|3vote = 
|4words = 
|4vote = 
|source = 
|sourcelink = 
|sourcenote = 


YYY County Commission, District #
DefeateddJohn Smith, Incumbent 92 40.53%
ApprovedaJame Doe 132 58.15%
DefeateddBob Smith 2 0.88%
DefeateddMary Sue 1 0.44%
Election results via: (timed out) YYY County Elections Office (Accessed: November 11, 2013)

Supporters and opponents

As the article evolves, you should have two separate sections, one labeled "Supporters" and one labeled "Opponents."

In each of these sections, it is appropriate to include:

  • Name of supporters (opponents)
  • Arguments they are making for the position they are taking
  • Events and campaign activities they are organizing
  • Embedded videos
  • Images of campaign artwork
  • Amount of money they have raised for their effort, and who contributed it
  • Any other circumstances that are relevant or interesting, that have to do with either the supporters or the opponents

Path to the ballot

This section should be used to provide details about the progress of the recall question to the ballot.

Information that goes in this section includes:

  • How many signatures are required to qualify this recall question for the ballot.
  • When must those signatures be submitted?
  • Are there any other legal steps the recall organizers must go through to qualify the question for the ballot?
  • If recall organizers have gotten to the point of submitting signatures, how many did they submit and on what day/date?
  • If signatures were submitted to election officials, how many days do those officials have to check over the signatures?
  • If the signatures have been verified as sufficient for the purposes of calling an election, in how many days must the relevant authorities call the election?

Sometimes, there are many different relevant dates to consider. In that case, it can be helpful to provide a section here labeled "Timeline" with a bullet-pointed list of relevant dates.

If lawsuits have been filed relative to the signatures or any other aspect of qualifying this measure for the ballot, that information should be included in this section. Make it as detailed as possible.

In general, this section is where you tell the reader about the process that may (or may not) result in a recall election being held.

See also

Your article should have a "See also" section. The components of this section should be a bullet-pointed list of at a minimum these four links:

Nav and infobox templates

  • At the end of your article, you should type:
  • On the article's discussion page, you should type {{wrecall}} and the 2-digit code for the state in question; that is, something that looks like: {{az}}
  • If the article is a stub, you should type {{recall stub}} at either the beginnning or end of the article.
  • There is a recall infobox you can use to illustrate your page (as in this example) if you have an image of the recall target. To install this infobox, copy the code below at the beginning of your article and fill in the "recall image" link with the title of your image.
{{Local recall |
 Recall image =|


See also: Help:Categories

Getting the categories right is very important. There are at least four categories that must, at a minimum, go on any recall article you write:

  • A category to indicate the state where the recall is taking or took place. (Example: Category:Recall, Arizona)
  • A category to indicate the year of the recall. (Example: Category:Recall, 2009)
  • A category to indicate the type of elected office held by the office-holder who is or was targeted for recall. (Example: Category:School board recalls, 2010)
  • A category to indicate the current status of the recall.

State category

The category for the state (except for California, Michigan and Oregon) should be in this form:

Year category

The category for the year should be in this form:

Elected office category

The available categories for the type of recall you are dealing with are:

For each of these recall types, use the main category, followed by a comma and the year of the recall. If that category shows up as a red link, edit it to conform to the way that category was placed into the relevant parent categories in versions from an earlier year.

That is, the actual "type of elected office" category you place on a page should look like some variation of these:

Make sure to change the categories if the year of the recall election ends up differing from the year you used in the original categories on the page.

Status of recall category

There are eight (8) different statuses that can apply to a specific recall effort. For each status, there is a category that indicates that status. These categories need to be adjusted over time, as the recall effort goes through various stages.

The reason for the additional complexity of adding categories that relate to the status of a recall effort is that it allows us to have overview articles like these:

...that automatically place specific recall campaigns in the correct section based on their current status.

The eight status markers are:

  1. Recall, unofficial: This is the category you use when a recall article where the effort has been announced by recall supporters, but they have yet to start the formal recall process, such as by given an elected official a notice of intent of recall or by filing a petition with local election authorities.
  2. Recall, underway: This is the category you use when a recall article where the effort has officially started, is ongoing, but has not resulted in a scheduled election yet.
  3. Recall, did not go to a vote: This is the category you use when the effort is over and did not result in a vote.
  4. Recall, judicial: This is the category you use when the effort is over and did not result in a vote.
  5. Recall, resigned: This is the category you use when the targeted incumbent politician resigned after a recall campaign was launched. The resignation could occur before or after an election is scheduled.
  6. Recall, scheduled: This is the category you use when the relevant election officials have scrutinized the signatures submitted on the recall petition, determined that sufficient signatures were filed to trigger an election, and gone ahead and actually scheduled that election.
  7. Recall, approved: This is the category you use when a recall election has taken place, and the voters used the occasion of that recall election to remove the targeted politician from office.
  8. Recall, defeated: This is the category you use when a recall election has taken place, and the voters chose to retain the targeted politician in his or her office.

Additionally, there is a status marker for when there are multiple outcomes. This should be used in conjunction with the above seven categories, not in place of.