Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oregon: Petitioner ends Klamath recall short of total


Nebraska: Details on the Chadron recall

The recall is set for October 4. Here's some more info.

Oregon: Cornelius Mayor, two city councilmembers voted out of office

Follow-up, the Mayor and two City Council members were removed by a 2-1 vote. The replacements will not be elected, but instead will be appointed by the remaining councilmembers. Of interest -- the recall was pushed by one of the losers in the last election.

Colorado: Saguache County County Clerk recall hands in enough signature

More follow-up on the fascinating Saguache County County Clerk recall. The recall committee has handed in 816 signatures, more than 200 than they needed. If you recall, the County Clerk won a disputed reelection on a recount or re-tabulation and refuses to hand over the ballots.

Wisconsin: State lawmakers look to give Governor and legislature more power over recall

Republicans are looking to strip the power to regulate recall laws from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board and hand it over to the Governor and the legislature. Professor Rick Hasen at the Election Law Blog notes that this is a troubling development, especially because the GAB has served as one of the best examples of nonpartisan election administration.

One rule of particular interest specifically mentioned in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article is the use of online petitioning. The GAB has held that people can print out the petitions and send it in, which, as we noted in a similar Maryland case, would radically cut down on the cost and potentially expand the use of the recall and the initiative.  

Arizona and sham candidates -- comparing different recall set ups

Some interesting discussion by the Election Law Blogger himself, Professor Rick Hasen, focused on Olivia Cortes, the alleged sham candidate in the Russell Pearce. As I'll explain below, because of the particularities of Arizona law, I don't find the sham candidate problem that offensive.

For contrast, Hasen notes how California law works. California's law eliminates sham candidates run to protect the targeted official. It provides for two concurrent votes, one on whether to actually recall the official, and the second (non-partisan) on the replacement. The removed official cannot run in the replacement race (which I believe was the source of debate during the adoption of the recall itself).

I think this is the best system, mainly because it limits costs and provides some contrasts between the official being recalled and the possible replacement. Though not a benefit, I believe the ability to draw a contrast with a successor actually benefits the elected official -- as the official has somebody to attack rather than the potentially nebulous recall proponents.

However, there are other systems. For example, most states have a replacement vote on a separate date, which drives up the cost of the recall.

Let's look at some details and a two other jurisdictions in the news this year for contrast:

Wisconsin, which has the recall at the same time as the replacement vote, has a very partisan take on the recall. If there is more than one candidates from any party, there is a primary. The winners of each parties' primary face off in the recall. This limits the problem of sham candidates by forcing any sham candidate to a third party line. On the possibly negative side, it does empower the two political parties and on the definitely negative front, it potentially doubles the cost of the recall.

Miami-Dade, which had a recall vote against its Mayor this year, chose an even more expensive tact. First, there was a straight recall vote. This was followed by a replacement election, where the candidates needed a plurality to triumph. Since no one received a plurality, there was a run-off. This method certainly limited sham candidates, but at great expense.

Arizona's law is different. The state throws all the candidates together and holds the race on a regularly scheduled Election or Primary Day. In fact, one of the problems with the Pearce was that court challenges could have pushed it past November, which would have resulted in a March 2012 recall. This law obviously saves money. I think it also certainly helps the incumbent -- having recalls as special elections seems to benefit the challengers.

But I think Arizona's insistence on having the recall held concurrent with a regularly scheduled election transforms the recall into what seems to be a regular (albeit non-partisan) vote. There are serious negatives to this law, such as the long delay in having a recall, but it also has strong positives, such as holding down costs and potentially increasing voter turnout. Arguably, it should be held to a different standard than a typical special election-type of recall.

Arizona does increase the possibility of sham candidates siphoning off the anti-incumbent vote -- but those can and do happen in other nonpartisan general elections or (perhaps especially) in primary races.  In the Pearce case, the alleged sham candidate may be boomeranging on Pearce, as it has become a big campaign issue.

This not to say that Arizona's system is ideal and should not be changed. I like the concurrent recall, then replacement systePublish Postm (though probably costs something more in ballot printing), but it should be recognized that the Arizona's law has a different focus than other jurisdictions we looked at. Of course, we should also point out that Arizona's system hasn't protected offending officials from getting absolutely trounced in a recall vote.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wisconsin: Pro-recall law analysis of the Vos Amendment

We've briefly touched on the Vos Amendment, which would look to radically reshape Wisconsin's recall law. As I wrote, it would effectively eliminate the recall by turning it into a judicial process (the official would have had to violate ethical rules to qualify to be recalled). The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel came out in favor of the law.
From the other point of view, here's a blog called Political Heat which provides analysis against the Vos amendment.

Texas: El Paso TRO extension rejected

More on the El Paso recall TRO. A request for an extension was rejected by the courts.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oregon: Forest Grove School Board recalls qualify

Following-up, The Forest Grove School Board recalls have qualified for the ballot.

Michigan: Recall wording approved against two Democratic State Reps

After the language approval of 20 Republicans, two Democrats have had recall language approved.

Washington: Union launches recall drive against sheriff

The International Longshoremen's union has launched a recall petition drive against Cowlitz County's sheriff. The issue is the sheriff's perceived overly aggressive enforcement actions against union protests.

Colorado: Montrose County Commissioners recall petitions nears signature goal


Arizona: Suit over "sham candidate" may be dropped

The suit against alleged "sham candidate" Olivia Cortes may be dropped. The plaintiff is claiming it is because the ballots have already been printed.

Wisconsin: Voter bribery investigations opened in Recall voting

Investigations are ongoing against both a conservative and liberal group in the aftermath of the recall campaigns.

California: Angels Camp City Council recall abandoned

Follow-up -- Angels Camp City Council recall abandoned because organizer said he doesn't want "to waste one more second of my energy on somebody I consider useless."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Alaska: Recall attempt against Wasilla City Councilman hits bumps, but may continue

An attempt to recall Wasilla City Councilman Steve Menard after he destroyed a hotel room at a state meeting hit some bumps on its way to the ballot. Most of the sponsors of the recall (they apparently need six, were residents of the borough, but not the district itself. They are allowed to fix the problem, and then try to get 200 signatures. Second time in recent weeks that we've had questions about whether voters not in a district can sign petitions to recall a candidate.

Texas: Sunland Park decisions leads to recall questions

Raises, continual hiring and firing of officials and taxes increases have led to thoughts of a recall against city council members. However, since the city has never held a recall, they are waiting for the state to give tell the procedure for handling the recall.

California: Editorial on Shasta Lake recall and the importance of local elections


Massachusetts: More on the Bridgewater Councillor recalls

Here and previous coverage here

Texas: More on El Paso recall, including questions over timing

Much more on the El Paso recall, including debates on the timing and the usual complaints over cost and questions over campaign financing.

The Mayor is claiming that the recall (and the second replacement vote if the recall is successful) would cost up to $2 million, and has already cost $40,000. This is generally not the best campaign tactic against a recall. Not sure why the costs would be so high, as El Paso seems to have a law mandating recalls be held on a regularly scheduled election day.

On the same front, the Election Administrator is saying that the recall should not qualify for the November ballot, thereby pushing it off till either May or November 2012. I'm not sure why it wouldn't be held on the same date as the presidential primary, though that should heavily favor the recall proponents.

Arizona: Recall attempt against Oro Valley Vice Mayor and Councilman fails to turn in petitions

Here, though the petitioners claimed they got enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Michigan: Chamber of Commerce mailing for State Rep. Paul Scott

Michigan Chamber of Commerce is backing Scott heavily in the recall campaign, with two large scale mailing out already.

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel comes out in favor of recall revision bill

See here. This bill would turn the recall from a political decision to a judicial one, and essentially would kill the recall for all but the most egregious cases of misconduct.

Arizona: Suit filed looking to remove "sham candidate" Cortes from ballot

A lawsuit has been filed to remove Olivia Cortes, the alleged "sham candidate" being run to siphon votes from opponent Jerry Lewis and benefit Arizona Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce. The Secretary of State's office has declined to investigate a previous complaint.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Maryland: Ocean City Fraternal Order of Police spearheaded drive to adopt recall

Following the firing of a City Manager, the Ocean City Fraternal Order of Police are collecting signatures to get a referendum on the ballot allowing for recalls of elected officials. More here.

Colorado: Sexting scandal + resignation does not stop school board recall

Strange follow-up to the Ellicot School Board recall, which was launched against two school board members. One of them, Stefanie Dickinson, was arrested on charges of internet luring of a child (Sexting with a 14 year old). Dickinson resigned her seat. Under the recall law, she had five days from when the petitions were certified to resign (that date passed on August 29th) or face a recall. A number of states have a similar "resignation request." But now we get to see what it means:

Since she missed that deadline and resigned later, there will still be a recall. From what it sounds like, if Dickinson's now-empty seat does not lose the recall, they board would name a replacement. But if the seat loses the recall vote, then the voters would replace (on a same day replacement election).

Friday, September 23, 2011

George Will and Washington State Campaign Finance Law on recalls

You wouldn't know it from this article, but George Will has been arguably the most prominent principled opponent of the recall since William Howard Taft (by principled, I mean he has oppose its use against both Democrats and Republicans).

The story is about the recall attempt on the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer, Dale Washam, a fascinating recall that we dealt with before. Will's piece is an attack on Washington state's campaign finance structure for recalls -- the state bans any contribution above $800, including pro bono legal service. Since the Assessor-Treasurer requires over 65,000 signatures, the $800 is a real barrier.  A Federal Court Judge has issued a temporary injunction against the law in the case.

However, the story leaves out a whole lot of information. Perhaps most important is the origins of the $800 limit. Will blames it on Washington lawmakers protecting themselves. However, it was actually passed by voters in 1992 (with 73% of the vote) under Initiative 134. Undoubtedly, politicians deserve some credit or blame for pushing and crafting initiatives, but the fact that it was an initiative heavily mitigates Will's complaint. I don't know the full history of Initiative 134, but these three articles suggests it was an attempt to clamp down on union spending on campaigns. To say this law was designed to actually protect incumbents seems a great stretch.

The law itself seems extremely restrictive. However, this point from the Institute for Justice, which brought the suit, is worth thinking about:
The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that government restrictions on political speech and spending are unconstitutional unless they are closely related to stopping a politician from trading his vote for cash.  But there is no threat of corruption from contributions to a recall campaign because there is no candidate to corrupt.  Indeed, a recall campaign is the opposite of corruption—there’s no danger that a politician will do favors for someone who donates to his recall campaign; indeed, quite the opposite.  Even the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—one of the courts most favorable to laws restricting political speech—has recognized that recall contributions are not corrupting.  Yet Washington persists in enforcing unconstitutional laws.
This may be the law, but it seems to be at odds with reality, and demands an overly restrictive, rose-colored view of the recall. From the earliest days of ther recall (see the E.E. Grant recall), we've seen that candidates try to use the recall to get themselves into office. Legally, we might have to close our eyes to this reality (though I haven't thought about it enough to come to a conclusion), but we can't honestly believe it.  Washam himself is a good example, as he tried to launch recalls against his predecessors. Do you think he wasn't taking names of his contributors to the recall effort?

But none of this shows a conspiracy theory in favor of elected officials. Instead it continues to show that politicians and bill drafters were not considering the recall when they made most modern campaign laws. Wisconsin and Arizona have extremely different campaign finance systems covering recalls, and both are different from their regular law -- Wisconsin's is unlimited, Arizona's extremely restrictive. On the same front, there is controversy regarding laws banning political signs from being posted a certain number of days before elections -- the sign laws are probably unconstitutional. When they thought of these laws, nobody was thinking of the recall. And we can't be surprised by that.

Non-Recall article on Presidential fights with intraparty contenders

I wrote this article for Reuters,  jumping off from the recent sniping between Rick Perry and George Bush's team.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wisconsin: Changes proposed to recall


Texas: Sign controversy in El Paso

Picture depicting mayor being hit over the head with a guitar sparks controversy

Oregon: Oakridge Mayor calls for changes to recall

After surviving the recall, the Oakridge mayor calls for changes.

India: Recall in reform plan is "impractical" says Chief Election Commissioner


Tennessee: Petition taken out against Rockwood Mayor and two council members


California: Long Beach Councilman complains about cost of recall

Long Beach Councilman James Johnson says recall costs -- estimated at $187,726 -- is not worth it.

Nevada: 2nd attempt at recall of Las Vegas Councilman

After failing in an earlier attempt to recall Las Vegas Councilman Steve Ross, where they apparently missed by 25 signatures (out of a 1,084 need), petitioners are giving it another go,

Oregon: Forest Grove school board petitions handed in

Forest Grove recall proponents have handed in nearly 1,800 signatures, they need 1,616 to be valid. Questions remain over the value of this recall.-

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

California: Fullerton council members defenders come out

More on the proposed Fullerton recall. The recall is being launched against members of the city council, after the controversy over the beating death of a homeless, schizophrenic man by police officers. Defenders of the council member are claiming that the recall petitioners are just trying to settle old scores.

North Dakota: Valley City recall petitions handing in for Mayor City Councilman

Following-up, petitions were handed in for Valley City Mayor and City Councilman -- needs 396, handed in 500.

Oregon: Oakridge Mayor, Council members survive recall

Votes are in for the Oakridge, Oregon recall. The Mayor and three city council members survived. Mayoral race was the closest 507-481.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Arizona: Sign fight dying down

Like Wisconsin, Arizona has a law prohibiting signs from going up to early. Doesn't sound like it will matter.

Texas: Cost and date questions in El Paso

Looks like there could be a wide variation in the cost of recall, and the vote may be put off til November 2012

Arizona: Two and a half candidates

More on the Russell Pearce recall -- Democratic Precinct Committeeman (and former primary candidate for the state Senate seat) is requesting an investigation into the presence of Olivia Cortes, who has been called a sham candidate, running simply to divide the anti-Pearce votes

Tennessee: In-depth letter on the Chattanooga recall fight in the courts


Wisconsin: Breakdown of spending on the recall -- $44 million

Most of it was by outside groups. To put it into context, in 2010 all the Wisconsin legislative races totaled a cost of $20.25 million. The Governor's race was $37.4 million

Monday, September 19, 2011

California: New Documentary repeats old error on California Supreme Court "recalls"

A new documentary out about former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso repeats an old error. This article notes that Cruz Reynoso, Joseph Grodin and Chief Justice Rose Bird were recalled in 1986. They were not recalled. They were voted out in a mandatory retention election. As the word mandatory suggests, there is a very big difference between the two. There were 9 attempts to recall Bird and two to recall Reynoso. All failed to get on the ballot.

Michigan: Another recall held back by language

Recall campaign against Michigan State Rep. held up for the second time due to the petition language

California: Long Beach's recall history

Following-up, some history on Long Beach's past recalls

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Non-Recall Article: The Electoral College Switcheroo

Here's a piece I wrote for the Huffington Post on the Electoral College, and some related thoughts below:

A little follow-upon this piece, including what I feel is some needed history:

Even after Bush’s “wrong winner” victory, I thought the Electoral College would easily survive any attacks. However, if Pennsylvania (and others states, like Wisconsin and Michigan) change to the district-based system and that costs the Obama (or a future Democrat) the presidency, it would be devastating blow to the College. Even with the history. The Democrats would, almost by necessity, focus their efforts on killing the Electoral College (and would eventually succeed).

This issue will no longer be the undemocratic nature of the College, or whether it benefits a few states. Instead, it will be that the presidential election can be gamed. It would be the equivalent to allowing a baseball team to move the fence in or back for each game. Instead of the current race, every four years, we would have a crazy battle royal for control of the state legislature, and then a state-by-state move to change the voting rules to benefit one candidate or the other. We actually have had something similar – the presidential primary and caucus system, which changes every four years. That process is a complete mess, but because it doesn’t benefit any party or interest group, we aren’t changing it. But it would be much different with the Electoral College.

Unfortunately, the history of the Electoral College system is almost universally ignored. Here’s some details, including why we have it, and what it was suppose to achieve:

The members of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were particularly proud of the electoral system. Alexander Hamilton called the future Electoral College "excellent" and wrote that the method of selecting presidents was "almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure."

The many "anti-Federalist" opponents of the Constitution did not focus on what was to be called the Electoral College. Looking back, it is clear that the popular election of a president was not a prime concern, though not for the reasons many think. The option of choosing a president by popular vote was voted on a number of times during the convention, and only two states voted in its favor.

There were a number of reasons to oppose popular vote: Many of the conventioneers believed that the country was too large to directly elect the president; some Southerners realized their state's impact would be diluted, as the three-fifths compromise gave the slave states more impact in Congress than they would have in a popular vote; some states'-rights advocates wanted the states to have more of a say in the selection; small states were concerned that their votes would be drowned out; while still others simply did not trust the people to choose properly.

However, perhaps the most important reason for the lack of enthusiasm for the popular vote was that there was little experience in directly electing executives: Throughout the country, the governors - the chief executives of each state -were not chosen by the voters. Instead, in 10 of the 13 original states, the state legislature chose the governor, and in two of the other three states, if no candidate received a clear majority, the legislature made the choice. This was the model for election that the conventioneers drew on. The original plans brought to Philadelphia, and the first outlines of a presidency adopted by the convention, all provided for election of the chief executive by Congress.

However, as every student is taught, America's government is built on the principle of checks and balances. The convention was concerned about handicapping the president by placing too much power in Congress' hands. Therefore, a committee eventually designed an alternate Congress of electors, made up with the exact same amount of members, to choose the candidates. They also specifically banned any federal office holder from being a member of this congress, and, as an added protection, the electors did not meet as a national group, but rather met in each individual state.

Despite the creation of what would one day be the Electoral College -- it was not called this until the 1800s -- Congress still had some part to play in the selection of a president. In order to prevent the big states from dominating the choice, each elector was given two votes, one of which had to be cast for someone from another state.
Because of the diffuse nature of the nascent republic, many believed that the electors' votes would be divided among favorite sons, and therefore they would be unable to select a president. If this came to pass, the electors would have served as a nominating committee. The top five candidates would be sent to Congress, which would then select a president in a state by state vote of the congressional delegations, the winning candidate needing a majority of the states to succeed, the second place candidate would be the vice president.

This situation, where Congress selected the president from a set of nominees, came about twice, first in 1800 and then in 1824. The first resulted in the 12th Amendment, changing the Electoral College by dividing up the elector's vote into one for a presidential candidate and one for a vice presidential candidate; the second resulted in the creation of a strong two party system. With the exceptions of the disputed elections of 1876 and 2000, the Electoral College has since selected the president without complaint.

It is clear that the Electoral College was not a hastily thrown together "Rube Goldberg" contraption, designed as an anti-democratic device intended to deprive the voters of the right to choose a president. Nor was its goal to benefit a few states. Instead, the founders wanted to create a functional government that was accepted by all. The Electoral College has served its primary goal: Providing a stable, fairly representative government for almost all of the country's existence.

Nebraska: York County Attorney recall petitioning begins

Follow-up from this one, they have 30 days to get 1,165 signatures.

Texas: Grand Jury refuses to indict six San Juan petitioners

An attempt to recall four city council members landed six San Juan Petitioners in jail earlier this year on charges they pushed people to sign the petitions under false pretenses. The Grand Jury refused to indict. Can't think of another case that led to criminal indictment for petitioning alone. A timeline here.

Michigan: Recall refiled against Michigan state Senator

A petition to recall state Senator Phil Pavlov is being refiled -- the last two petitions have been rejected for lacking clarity, being too vague and, in the case of one judge, failing to identify what term the offending actions took place. Petitioners need 20,466 to get on the ballot.

Oklahoma: Nowata recall on against four of five councilmembers

Despite prior claims by the city that the recall effort failed, recalls have been certified for four of the five Nowata city councilmembers. Those four are all men. The recall for the fifth councilmember, who is female, was deemed invalid , due to lack of signatures and missing warning and notarization. It was a separate group that took out the recall petitions in the failed recall, and the proponent of the successful recalls does cite the bad treatment of the fifth council member as an impetus for the recall effort.

Washington: Recall of Pierce County Assessor misses ballot by less than 2%

Following-up on the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam recall, despite handing in over 65,000 signatures, the recall failed by 1,108. The recall apparently would have been the largest in Washington State's history. The story behind the recall and the Pierce County Assessor fights seems intriguing. Especially this bit of information about the past recalls:
She came far closer than Washam, who tried and failed five times between 1994 and 2005 to recall opponents who defeated him in elections. He reached the signature-gathering stage once, in 2000, but gave up before turning any in.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Massachusetts: Bridgewater Town Council questions validity of town's recall law

Two Town Councilors in Bridgewater, who are both facing recalls, are claiming that the law was written before the Town Council existed and includes the defunct Board of Selectmen. They have several other arguments here, including a similar one to the Jasper recall -- the recall allows signatures from everyone in the town to count, even though the officials are elected on a district-based system.
There's a few other pertinent arguments, including that the Board of Selectmen was a Executive Body, and the Town Councilors are a legislative one.
The Councilor is not filing a court challenge, so we won't get to see this one played out.

Nebraska: Hitchcock School Board Votes not to hold recall

Following-up from last month, on the advice of attorneys, the School Board has voted not to hold a recall, despite a county clerk's certification of the petition signatures. According to the McCook Daily Gazette:

Haase (School's Attorney) also said reports were received from some signers that they were told the petition was to save an old school building from being torn down, and from others who were led to believe the petition was to reduce their property taxes.
Haase told the Gazette today that her advisement was reportedly based on the circulator, Shane Rippen, signing the petition documents as a sole circulator but reports were received from numerous sources that he did not gather all of the signatures himself.
The attorney  also noted:
She explained that the board could have still called the election, but she advised them against it. Haase believed that doing so would open the school district up to multiple lawsuits from school board members and subject it to the potential for even further harm.
First rule of recalls -- there will always be a legal challenge.

Texas: TRO tossed out in El Paso recall

Judge giveth, judge taketh. One day after granting a Temporary Restraining Order halting a recall of El Paso's Mayor and two Councilmen, the judge lifted the order.

Texas: Jasper Goes Federal, with a possible novel legal argument about At-Large districts

Even more follow-up on the Jasper recall (see here for the last installment). After being forced by the state courts to hold a recall (the city council refused to schedule one), Jasper officials are now appealing to federal court to stop the recall (here's a copy of the complaint).

One interesting twist to the complaint. When the city adopted the recall provision in 1964, the city council was elected in an at-large basis. In 1991, it switched to single member districts, but did not change the recall law (which appears to allow signatures from voters in other districts to be used to recall councilmembers). According to the complaint:

The current City Charter violates the rights of Plaintiffs and all other residents in City Council Districts 3 and 4 to the equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The City’s Charter is in direct conflict with the Voting Rights Act because voters in single-member minority districts are deprived of their duly elected representatives by Jasper residents who are not qualified to vote for the Council Members they are seeking to recall.
I'll have to look around to see if that argument has been made before in the context of a recall. There should be a lot of material out there on the misuse of at-large districts in the South. 

California: Recall allowed to proceed against Long Beach Councilman

Petitions are now being circulated against a Long Beach Councilman. To start the process, they needed signatures from 20 voters. There is a kitchen sink of charges.

Michigan: State Senate recall faces long odds

A look at the recall campaign against State Senator Patrick Colbeck

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

California: Failure to follow procedure dooms attempted Feather River Rec recall

The recall against the Feather River Parks and Recreation District members failed because the proponents didn't follow procedure, such as taking an ad out in the proper newspaper.

Oregon: Oakridge recall facing absentee ballot problems

The upcoming Oakridge recall is facing problems with the absentee ballots.

Oregon: Cornelius Mayor facing new charges

With a Sept. 27th recall coming up, the Mayor Cornelius is facing new charges of publishing false information in campaign materials, 

South Dakota: Whitewood Mayor Survives Recall vote

The mayor of Whitewood, South Dakota survived a recall vote -- the issue was the dealing with the polices. She won 59% of the vote (or 158 votes)

Texas: El Paso Mayor receives TRO against recall petitions being handed in

Never heard of this type of move -- the Mayor of El Paso and two councilmembers have received a Temporary Restraining Order preventing Pastor Tom Brown, the prime mover behind a recall attempt, from handing in petitions or coming into contact with the district clerk's office. The mayor is claiming that the signatures were gathered in corporations and churches, which is not allowed under Texas law.

Primer on Arizona recall

With the Arizona Supreme Court's ruling giving the go-ahead to the Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce recall, let's do an early primer.

Banner Year:
Pearce will be the 10th state legislator in the US to face a recall this year, with more possible in Michigan. How unprecedented is this? From the 1908 (when Oregon adopted the recall for state officials) till 2010, only 20 state legislators faced a recall vote (13 of those votes resulted in the official being kicked out). Is Voter Anger to blame or is it something else? What do all these recall mean?

The King is...Still Alive
Pearce would be third state legislative leader to face a recall. The other two survived. See the details here.

Running Up the Score:
Blowout victories are the norm in recall races. While there were a few closes races in Wisconsin, most of them were comfortable victories. There is certainly a logic to the blowout nature -- the official is either really hated, or the interest group that pushed the recall is viewed as going overboard. 

Election Day vs. Special Election --- Pearce's lucky break
Historically, turnout is low for recalls that are held as special elections. This a real advantage to this for recall proponents -- going back to our 20 recalls, 18 were probably held as special elections. 13 of those were successful.
On closely followed recalls, turnout is higher.  Wisconsin, like the Gray Davis recall before, saw a big turnout. None of that matters for Pearce. Arizona has a different law -- recalls on a regularly scheduled Election Day. The result is most likely beneficial for Pearce.

The Interest Group Defense:
Pearce's recall has been viewed as being initiated by a specific interest group. Does that help or hurt the recall's chances? History suggests that the best defense is blaming a specific interest group, rather than a political party. See here for a lot more on the subject, including why interest groups make a great villain.

The lack of a special election will certainly hold down costs (and criticism) of the recall. It also deprives Pearce of an issue. However, thanks to a strange rule in Arizona, Pearce is able to demand reimbursement for his costs. More on that here.

Campaign Finance:
Pearce is not allowed to accept corporate donations. Very different rules than Wisconsin. Not going to be as much money as in Wisconsin anyway.

Spoiler Alert:
Pearce has two challengers. One is alleged to be a "spoiler" candidate to siphon off anti-Pearce votes.

Pearce is the first recall of a state official in Arizona history. Arizona actually has a great history with the recall. The state's original constitution provided for the recall of judges. William Howard Taft vetoed the constitution, resulting in heavy criticism from Teddy Roosevelt and a big campaign issue in the 1912 election. Additionally, Governor Evan Mecham was all set to face a recall in 1988, but was impeached and convicted before the recall took place.

Will there be calls for recall reform? Will the recall disappear? Tune in and we'll see.

Arizona: Supreme Court okays Pearce recall

The Arizona Supreme Court has rejected an attempt to toss out the recall effort against Senate President Russell Pearce. The Court held that a recall law should be "liberally" construed using a "substantial compliance" standard, rather than a "strict compliance" one. The court noted that Arizona voters cared enough about the recall to have President William Howard Taft veto the state's constitution (and delay statehood) over the recall law (as it pertained to judges).

From the decision in Franklin Bruce Ross v. Ken Bennett:

A. The Public's Right to Recall

¶7 The Arizona Constitution guarantees the people the right to recall public officers who hold elective offices. Ariz. Const. art. 8, pt. 1, § 1. Although the recall procedure has been used rarely, recall was an important issue during the Constitutional Convention of 1910. See The Records of the Arizona Constitutional Convention of 1910 [hereinafter Records] 241-46, 259-70, 802-12, 919-22, 925-29 (John Goff ed., 1991). Sentiment favoring recall was so strong that the framers included in the constitution a recall provision for all public officers, despite well-placed fears that President Taft would not approve statehood if the recall provision applied to the judiciary. See id. at 920, 926, 1418; Letter from President William H. Taft to the U.S. H.R. (Aug. 15, 1911) (reprinted in Toni McClory, Understanding the Arizona Constitution 193-99 (2d ed. 2010)). The President eventually approved Arizona's bid for statehood, but only on the condition that the framers exempt judges from the recall provision. Letter to U.S. H.R. Arizonans acquiesced to the President's request, but less than one year later, they overwhelmingly voted to amend the constitution to once again subject all public officers to recall. See Ariz. Const. art. 8, pt. 1, § 1. This broad recall provision remains in force today. Id.; see also Ariz. Rev. Stat. ("A.R.S.") § 19-201(A) (Supp. 2011) (implementing constitutional recall provision).

¶8 Given this history, this Court has interpreted constitutional and statutory provisions governing recall liberally to protect the public's right to recall its officials. See Pacuilla v. Cochise Cnty. Bd. of Supervisors, 186 Ariz. 367, 368, 923 P.2d 833, 834 (1996); Johnson v. Maehling, 123 Ariz. 15, 18, 597 P.2d 1, 4 (1979); Abbey v. Green, 28 Ariz. 53, 72-74, 235 P. 150, 157 (1925).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nebraska: Another Dodge School Board Member may face a recall

A fourth member of the Dodge school board may face a recall vote, after three others were ousted. They will only need 89 signatures to get the recall on the ballot. There is still a need to fill the three now-empty seats with replacements.

Michigan: Republican leaders discuss possible legislative action against Teachers' Union in wake of recalls

Issue is right to work and mandatory union laws

Texas: Recall proposed for Watauga City Councilman for gun ideas

A Watauga Councilman is being threatened with a recall for his proposals. Here's some the big ones from the Fort Worth Star Telegram:
Anyone with a concealed-handgun licenses should be required to carry their guns when they are at City Hall. Police should also train all residents who are older than 65 or disabled -- and any others who are interested -- to use shotguns and pistols for home defense.
He also says all city fees should be ended and as many city services as possible eliminated or privatized so that only essential services remain.
Responsibility for maintenance of parks and recreation facilities should be turned over to churches, civic groups and residents who live near parks. Churches and civil groups should staff the library. Code enforcement would be left up to residents who can show the city proof of having talked with the offender, go on record to report the offender and pay a fee.

Arizona: Two candidates in race to remove Pearce, some argue one is "dubious"

Two candidates have gotten into the recall race against Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce. One of the candidates is Jerry Lewis, who has been talked about for some time. The other is being called a "sham candidate" who, it is claimed, is running to siphon off votes from Lewis and help Pearce.

Arizona: Legal challenge filed in Quartzsite recall

One of the backers of the ousted mayor has filed suit seeking to have the new mayor removed based on eligibility issues.

Michigan: Supreme Court turns back recall appeal of State House member

Michigan's Supreme Court refused to issue a stay in the recall of Paul Scott.The recall is scheduled for November 8th.

Nebraska: Inappropriate comments, actions lead to calls for recall of York County Attorney

York County Commissioners (individually) have taken out papers to recall the County Attorney due to multiple poor choices.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Colorado: Recall threat against County Clerk

Saguache County Clerk is being threatened with a recall after a continuing debate on discrepancies in an election in 2010

Arizona: A look at the history of a strange recall provision

We have mentioned the campaign reimbursement provision in Arizona before. Here is a look at some of the history behind it.

Georgia: Judge reviewing Hall County Recall on whether sufficient grounds

Here. Follow-up from this story.

Maine: Berwick looking to recall Board of Selectmen

Here. It sounds like they need only one petition to recall the entire board.

Philippines: Brother-Sister Governor/Vice Gov recall going to the ballot

Overseas news where the Philippines Supreme Court mandated a recall of a Governor and Vice Governor, who are also brother and sister. As a follow-up to our Gov/LG question, yes, they needed two separate petitions.

Wisconsin: AG called on to rule on Gov/LG recall split

Follow up from our past discussion of the subject of whether a same ticket Lieutenant Governor is automatically recalled when a Governor is voted out, the Government Accountability Board has asked the state AG to weigh in.

Michigan: Mayoral recall approved in Taylor

Recall will be held on November 8. Issue is about laying off 9 police officers, though apparently 8 have since been rehired, and one got a job somewhere else.

Michigan: Third times the charm on AG recall proposal

An election commission has finally signed off on the petitions to recall Michigan's state Attorney General, after two previous failed attempts to have the language of the petition approved. The issue is the AG's interpretation of the medical marijuana law. They'll need about 807,000 signatures.

Nebraska: Three Dodge School Board members ousted in recall

Three Dodge school board members were kicked out of office in a recall, with 65% turnout (though we are talking about less than 500 votes cast per race). Issue was about unification of school districts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Texas: More on Jasper, including threats to recall Mayor

More on the Jasper recall debacle, including possible threats to recall the Mayor. Here's a full scale treatment by the Houston Chronicle

Wisconsin: Study says 95% of the TV ads were negative

A study says that the ad buys in the Wisconsin recall were nearly uniformly negative. This editorial decries the use of negative ads, but others have a different opinion on the subject. The editorial fails to note the fact-free nature of modern positive campaigns. As I've written before:
"Campaigns love presenting the glowing, carefully stage-managed images of a successful marriage instead of actually discussing issues and questions of competence. This empty-calorie diet of faux domestic bliss is easy on the electorate, and much more palatable than discussing hard issues and presenting a real contrast among candidates. But as our politicians' marital pratfalls show, these stories fall apart on inspection. Future candidates: Spare us the sunshine, and please don't focus on the family."

Oregon: Forest Grove School Board recalls going to the wire

With 19 days remaining, proponents of the recall of two Forest Grove school board claim confidence in getting it on the ballot, though they are a few hundred signatures short. Sounds like even if they oust the two members, the other three school board members will get to choose replacements.

Oregon: Cornelius Mayor and two Councilors recall set for September 27

The recall of the mayor and two councilors of Cornelius, Oregon is set for September 27. The recall proponents have reported a "warchest" of $2,334.

Louisiana: Backer of failed gubernatorial recall effort to run for Governor

A man who tried to run a failed recall of Governor Bobby Jindal (getting a reported 55 signatures out of the 908,000 needed), will run against Jindal as an independent in the next election.

Michigan: Republicans rally to help State Rep facing recall


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wisconsin: Winnebago says recall cost county $100K


Wisconsin: Editorial calls for reform of the recalls

This editorial is calling for wholesale revision to the recall. Though they couch it in softer terms, the requirement for criminal or ethical wrong-doing would be a radical revamp.

Wisconsin: Questions about legality of yard signs calling for recall of Governor

Wauwatosa is debating whether "Recall Walker" signs dotting lawns in Wisconsin are a illegal -- there is a time limit on how far in advance and election sign can be put up. This article claims that the  DOT has a rule that signs are allowed up on state highways for only 45 days prior to an election, and must be down within a week. Not sure what that has to do with yard signs, but they are looking into it.

Arizona: Quartzsite's ousted mayor claims vote rigged

More on the Quartzsite recall, with the ousted mayor claiming the vote was rigged (he lost on the absentee vote). See here for past coverage.

Arizona: Fountain Hills recall petitions for two council members handed in

See here

Oregon: Tense Oakdale City Council meeting on after Recalls get certified

Following the certification of the Oakdale recalls, there was this tense city council meeting. Story discusses much of the basis of the recall.