Thursday, January 5, 2017

119 Recalls in 2016 -- 60 removals, 17 resignations, 42 survive; at least 402 attempts

A week later than I'd like, here's the Recall Elections Blog's annual end of the year stats: In 2016, we had 119 recalls get to the ballot or end in a resignation. The recall once again proved to be a powerful weapon, though not as successful as in last year. Of the 119, 60 were ousted in the vote, and 17 resigned. 42 officials survived a recall vote.

Additionally, one recall got enough signature to get on the ballot and then was withdrawn; one mayor resigned after the recall was rejected by a judge; two other officials resigned after the recall failed to get enough signatures.

This year saw an increase from 2015, which had 108 recalls, and was more in line with 2014 (which, I never actually wrote up), were we had 126 recalls. In 2013, we had 107 recalls2012 we had 168, and a 2011 we had 151.

For the third straight year, no state official has faced a recall (though in 2015, the Oregon Governor resigned in the face of recall threats). This is a return to the historic norm. The recall on the state level took off from 2011-2013, but despite the pitch partisan battles, recalls have not been used. There were discussions of recalls against legislators in Nevada and Oregon, but none went anywhere. The Michigan Governor has been a perennial target, but as discussed here, there is little chance or reason for the recall to get moving.

There were two recall attempts that did receive an enormous amount of attention, though neither got on the ballot: The recall threat against Santa Clara Judge Aaron Persky and, on the international stage, the recall against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Arguably the most notable recall was in East Cleveland, where Councilman Thomas Wheeler survived a recall in 2015 and in June, and then was finally ousted in December. I counted at least 402 attempted recalls, so once again, the vast majority of recall attempts do not result in signatures being handed in. Most recall attempts are abandoned.

Some basic stats:

  • 13 states had recall elections take place 
  • The big recall states were California (13) and Michigan (13) 
  • 22 mayors, one vice mayor and one village president faced a recall vote.
  • I have not included recalls in Native American territory (I count three, though there may be more), nor do I include HOAs or Senior Living Communities. 

Ballotpedia put out their year-ender on recalls, and the numbers are slightly different. Why the difference? It's not fully clear, but I do have easier access to all of their coverage, so that has to be figure into any fact. The resignations may be an issue of "when do you count a resignation in the face of a recall."  I also would not read that much into the calculation of attempt -- it is frequently not clear if someone took out petitions and there is some overlap between 2015 and 2016. So take that number with a grain of salt, but it does show how often recalls are threatened.

What can we expect in 2017? More of the same. 14 recalls are already on the ballot.

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