States with gubernatorial recall provisions
The office of governor
A governor serves as the head of a state's government in the United States. The governor is the chief executive for a state and performs ceremonial and political duties. All state governors are elected officials, elected by all registered voters living in a state. Most governors serve for a term of four years, except in the states of New Hampshire and Vermont. The governors in these states are elected to a term of two years.
Many governors play a significant role in setting the budget for government spending in their state. They also have the power to appoint various state officials and often work with the state legislature on legislative matters. The governor may also serve as commander-in-chief of the National Guard in the state. In some states, the governor has the power to commute a criminal sentence or pardon an individual who is incarcerated or on death row.
Placing a governor recall vote on the ballot
As with most recall efforts, the recall of a governor often begins when an individual or group decides to take action because they are dissatisfied with a governor's job performance.
An application or other document must be filed with the appropriate state official to begin a recall effort. The state official determines the number of signatures needed qualify for a recall election. Generally the number of signatures to be obtained corresponds to a certain percentage of the votes cast during the last election for the office of governor.
Depending on when a recall effort begins, the time frame to obtain the needed signatures varies. Once the required signatures are obtained and submitted, the signatures must be verified. In some states, a certain percentage of signatures must be obtained from individuals who voted in the last election and now want to see the governor removed from office.
18 states allow for gubernatorial recall. Some states, such as Louisiana and Michigan, provide for the recall of any elected public officeholder, with the exception of judges of courts of record, in their state constitutions. Some states only allow a recall vote to proceed for specific grounds. The Kansas Constitution allows the recall of local and state officials in an elected office, with the exception of judicial officers. However, the grounds for a recall are: conviction of a felony, misconduct in office or failure to perform duties as prescribed by law.
Some states specify a special election must be held within a short time frame after the signatures supporting a recall vote have been verified. In other states, a recall is placed on the ballot during the next regularly scheduled election.
- See also: Laws governing recall
Recalls are governed under Article XXI, Sections 1 through 3
State officials, including the Governor, are subject to recall after the first six months of their term. by filing a petition with the same officer who accepts the nominating petition for the office in question. For example, as nominating petitions for statewide office are filed with the Secretary of State, the petition to recall a statewide officer would also be filed with the Secretary of State.
The petition must have valid signatures equal to 25% of the votes cast for the incumbent in the city, county, or municipality which the targeted incumbent represents. As the Governor is a statewide office, the petition threshold is 25% of all votes cast for governor in the last election.
Currently, that number would be 446,933, or 25% of 1,787,730, the total ballots cast in the 2010 gubernatorial race.
Additionally, the petition must contain a statement, not exceeding 200 words, stating the grounds for the recall.
Normally, the Governor is the officer charged with calling a recall election. However, if the Governor is the officer being recalled, charge of the recall election devolves to the Lieutenant Governor. The incumbent subject to recall has five days to resign before the presiding officer calls the recall election.
If the petition, once submitted, is insufficient, it may be withdrawn and, within 15 days, amended and refiled. Once determined to be sufficient, a recall petition shall be, along with a certificate, submitted to the Lieutenant Governor, who calls a recall election not less than 30 days and not more than 60 days from the date of the petition's filing. However, if a general election is set within 90 days, the recall election may be combined with the general election.
If the recall fails, the incumbent may not be recalled again for the remainder of his or her term. Additionally, an incumbent who survives a recall is legally entitled to reimbursement of certain expenses from the State Treasury.
- See also: Governor of Wisconsin
All elected officers are subject to recall, after the first year of their term, by filing a petition with the same officer who accepts the nominating petition for the office in question. For example, as nominating petitions for statewide office are filed with the Secretary of State, the petition to recall a statewide officer would also be filed with the Secretary of State.
The petition must have valid signatures equal to 25% of the votes cast for the Governor in the city, county, or municipality which the targeted incumbent represents. As the governor is a statewide office, the petition threshold is 25% of all votes cast for governor in the last election.
Currently, that number would be 540,208, or 25% of 2,160,832, the total ballots cast in the 2010 gubernatorial race.
If the petition is valid, the filing officer must call a recall election for the Tuesday of the 6th week after the petition is filed. If that Tuesday is a legal holiday, the recall election is held the next day.
An incumbent under recall holds his or her office and carries out the duties until the results of the recall are declared. Unless a recalled incumbent declines to run within ten days of the recall election being called, the incumbent is assumed to have declared for the race.
For a partisan office, such as the Governor, a recall primary is held for each party legally entitled to a separate ballot. if a recall primary is called, it is on the same date as the recall primary.
If the recall fails, the incumbent may not be recalled again for the remainder of his or her term.
Governor recall elections
Recall elections, especially when they require a special election, can be expensive. Taxpayers foot the bill for the costs of the election. Individuals or groups must pay the costs to bring the recall effort to a vote.
According to the Government Accountability Board in Wisconsin, the two special election held to allow voters to decide whether to recall Governor Scott Walker cost taxpayers more than $13.5 million. The governor won the recall election and retained his seat as Governor.
Though efforts to recall a governor have increased in recent years, it is not common for sitting governor to be voted out of office through a recall election. Since 1921, three sitting governors have faced recall elections. Former North Dakota Governor Lynn Frazier was voted out of office in a recall election in 1921. In a 2003 recall election, Gray Davis was voted out of office. Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, retained his seat in office after a recall election in 2012. Many recall efforts fail due to a lack of money or a failure to put forth a viable candidate to replace the governor being recalled.