Monday, November 27, 2017

Rhode Island: North Smithfield Charter Review Commission looks to ease recall signature requirements

The commission looks to change the signature requirement from 30 percent of registered voters to 30 percent of votes cast.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Arizona: 2016 recall discovered -- Nutrioso Fire District Board Chairman removed

This one was from 2016, but I seemed to have missed it. Fire Board Chief Leo Witkowski was kicked out, losing to David Jones (a former board member). The issue was violations of the open meeting act. Jones won 161-74-1.

California: Dublin School Board member facing recall effort after confrontation with councilman

School Board Member Dan Cunningham is facing a recall effort after he agreed to take it outside with a parent and had a "scuffle" with Councilman Arun Goel after Goel claimed that he was a bully. Petitioners would need a little under 8000 signatures.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Alaska: Municipal League pass resolution calling for stricter recall lawsuit

The Alaska Municipal League passed a resolution asking the state legislature to make it clear what allegations are required to get a recall on the ballot. Homer City Council members Donna Aderhold, who survived a recall vote this summer, drew up the resolution.

Tennessee: Recall petitions approved against Etowah City Commissioner

Petitions have been approved in a recall against City Commissioner Roby Helm, which appears to be part of a dispute around the locate of a new City Hall.The petitioners filed a $1.2 million defamation suit against Helm over Facebook comments that he posted, but withdrew it in a week. Petitions would need between 250-300 signatures to get on the ballot.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Nevada: Oral Arguments in Democratic recall challenge indefinitely postponed

The lawsuit, which basically claims that recall elections are illegal under the Constitution and federal Voting Rights Act, has been indefinitely postponed until a separate lawsuit challenging the number of signatures in the recall of state Senator Joyce Woodhouse is decided.

Massachusetts: Sherborn Selectman take no action on recall provision to be voted on December 6 Special Fall Town Meeting

There are two provisions that can be voted on, one of which would require 200 or 300 signatures (depending on which article is adopted). One of the recalls provisions requires a statement of grounds the other requires one of three specific provisions to allow a recall to go forward.

California: No signatures handed in Redding City Council members

No signatures were handed in against Councilmembers Kristen Schreder and Francie Sullivan. The recall threat was over raises for city employees. Each councilmembers need more than 9800 valid signatures.

Alabama: Greenwood Mayor recall petition withdrawn

A petition to recall Mayor Phyllis Bowman has been withdrawn. A Circuit Judge had granted an injunction that stalled the recall effort even though petitioners have handed in enough signatures. The recall was over Bowman ordering employees to work the day of a hurricane and disciplining the town clerk for giving workers the day off.

Nebraska: Two Sutherland Trustees kicked out

Board Trustees John Lutz (280-215) and Ray Ravenscroft (267-230) both lost a recall vote yesterday. The issue was claims of personal profit, open meeting law violations, financial expenditures and scheduling meetings at inconvenient times.  There were also a resignation of village employees and two trustees.

Maryland: New attempt pushed against Bowie City Council member

Councilmember Diane Polangin will be facing a recall on December 19 over a decision to allow an old Marketplace shopping center to put apartments in a revitalization plan. There were attempts to get recalls against Mayor G. Frederick Robinson and Councilman Jimmy Marcos (and Polangin) earlier in the year.

Petitioners handed in over 3000 signatures and needed about 2700.

Wisconsin: Replacement chosen for Eleva-Strum School Board member

Joshua Stendhal was elected to replace Eleva-Strum School District Board President Lois Havenor, who resigned after signatures were handed in for removal. Stendhal beat Kristen Amundson Husby (427-338).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Michigan: Signatures handed in against Fraser "ex-mayor"

Ex-Mayor Joe Nichols, who was kicked out by tribunal hearing in February but is appealing the ouster, is also facing recall. Petitioners handed in 1782 signatures. They need 1782

Friday, November 17, 2017

Michigan: Recall effort against Four Wayne County officials

Mayor Susan Rowe and Councilmembers Chris Sanders, Ryan Gabriel and Anthony Miller are all facing recall efforts. Petitioners need a little under 1200 signatures with the issue claims that Sanders tried to get non-residents to submit critical comments against the City Manager.

New Mexico: Las Vegas Council member facing recall effort

Councilwoman Barbara Perea-Casey is facing a recall effort over claims that she is fighting the mayor too much in meeting. New Mexico is generally a Malfeasance Standard/Judicial Recall state, so it is possible they need a showing of cause (that is probably much higher than the nebulous fighting with the mayor) to be able to get on the ballot.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

California: Editorial opposing recall effort against two Redding Council members

Here -- signatures are due on November 21

Colorado: Petitions taken out against Estes Park Mayor and Trustee

Petitions were taken out against Mayor Todd Jirsa and trustee Cody Walker, though no word on the issue or the amount of signatures needed.

California: Signatures handed in against Oxnard Mayor and 3 council members

68,000 total signatures were handed in against Mayor Tim Flynn and council members Carmen Ramirez, Bert Perello and Oscar Madrigal. Petitioners need about 12,000 per (which equals 48,000) The recall is over a 5% raise in wastewater rates. Petitioner would need about 12,000 signatures to get to the ballot.

Michigan: Jackson Councilman recalled, wins Mayoral race instead

Councilman Derek Dobies was replaced in a recall vote by Colleen Sullivan, the candidate who came the closest to his views in a replacement race. The recall was over Dobies vote in favor of an anti-discrimination ordinance.

Dobies did not run in the recall race, and instead ran for Mayor, which he won, defeating the incumbent.

Nevada: Signatures handed in against Democratic State Senator

Petitioners handed in 16,875 signatures were handed in to start a recall of state Senator Nicole Cannizzaro (D). Petitioners need 14,975 valids. At the same time, Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D), who had signatures handed in last week, is challenging the validity of 5576 signatures over eligibility claims.

Here is my previous discussion on Nevada law and the challenges that might occur.

Oregon: Petitions taken out against three Ashland Parks and Recreation Committee members

Commissioners Michael Gardiner, Jim Lewis and Rick Landt are facing petitions following the firing of the Ashland Senior Center staff and a modification of the senior services.

Washington: Black Diamond Council member files bill to force City to pay for her legal defense of recall effort

Councilmember Pat Pepper proposed a resolution to get the city to pay for her legal expenses in the recall effort. King County Elections canceled the December special election following the Washington Supreme Court ruling tossing out one of the 4 charges. They also required that petitioners handed in a new set of 366 valid signatures.  This is going to go some more rounds.

California: Signatures handed in against newly appointed Rancho Santa Fe School District Board member

Signatures were handed in against board member Jon Yonemitsu, who was recently appointed to fill a vacancy, is facing a recall effort. Petitioners need 65 signatures to get the petitions going. Petitioners claim to have handed in double that amount. The recall is estimated to cost between $50,000-$100,000.

Michigan: Second petitions will be submitted against Kalkaska Village President

The first attempt against village President Jeff Sieting failed due to a misspelling of his name.

Nebraska: Broken Bow School Board member survives recall vote

School Board Member JB Atkins survived a recall vote 537-826. The issue was budget cuts and funding. A separate recall was started against member Carl French, but that was found to have begun too late for the ballot.

Florida: Petitions handed in against three Riviera Beach Councilmembers

Petitioners have handed in over 3,000 signatures each against Council members Terence Davis, Lynne Hubbard and Dawn Pardo over their vote to fire the city manager. The city manager was on the job for six months and was fired without a discussion. They had also fired the previous city manager.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Colorado: Two Custer County Commissioners ousted, one survives

Commissioner Bob Kattnig (54-46%) and Donna Hood (55-45%) were both ousted in a recall vote on Election Day, though Jay Printz (48-52%) survived. Kattnig had previously been targeted last year. The recall was over claims of holding closed door sessions and secret meetings, though other coverage claims that it is over "gross mismanagement" and building codes.

The three were Republicans, though the recall appears to be heavily supported by a conservative group.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nevada: GOP fails to hand in signatures against Independent state Senator

The recall effort against State Senator Patricia Farley (Independent) has failed, with petitioners turning in 2056 signatures -- they need 7342 to get on the ballot. Among the three recalls against state senators started by the GOP, Farley had by far the least signatures needed. We are still waiting on the signatures to be handed in against State Senator Nicole Cannizzaro (they need 14975).

Georgia: Push to recall Secretary of State

Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a recall effort following the high profile election data breaches and a server wipe. Petitioners would need 778,677 signatures by December 15, and it would also need to overcome Georgia's strict Malfeasance Standard law. A recall would lead to a gubernatorial replacement selection, so the recall backers are claiming that partisanship should not be a driver.

India: Further calls for recall power


Michigan: Kalkaska Village President recall denied due to misspelling

The recall effort of Village President Jeff Sieting was rejected by the Election Commission due to a misspelling of Sieting's name.

Montana: Pondera County Sheriff recall granted temporary injunction


Texas: Odessa Councilwoman recall abandoned

The recall effort against Councilwoman Barbara Graff has been abandoned due to the difficulty in getting 2000 signatures (they claimed to have gotten 800). The issue was the firing of the City Manager. No word on the recalls of the other two councilmembers.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Montana: Pondera County Sheriff sues to stop recall

Sheriff Carl Suta is arguing that the recall doesn't meet Montana law for incompetence, among other reasons (and also that the explanation is 251 words long when it should be only 200).

Ohio: Richmond Heights voters change city law to comport with state recall laws

The vote was with 62.4 % of the vote in favor.

Alaska: Cordova Councilor kicked out

City Councilor Josh Hallquist was kicked out in a special election 217-99 over the issue of claims of defamation of character, threatening business people and using foul and disrespectful language.

Idaho: Star Mayor and City Council member survive recall vote

Mayor Chad Bell (61% in favor) and Councilmember Kevin Nielson (60%) both survived a recall vote over an apartment complex.

Florida: Bradenton Beach Mayor, who lost a recall, then regain position in a card draw, loses reelection race

Mayor William Shearon's incredible mayoral run seems to be at an end. Shearon lost a recall race in May 2015, then ran again in November against his replacement Jack Clarke. They tied, resulting a card draw to decide the winner -- Shearon won. Now he's lost the seat again to John Chappie (who got nearly 60 % of the vote).

Texas: Denton voters refuse bill looking to increase percentage of signatures needed to get on the ballot

With nearly 60% of the vote against, Denton voters shot down an attempt to increase the number of signatures need to get a recall to the ballot from 25% to 35%. Denton recently had a recall against Councilman Joey Hawkins. The recall tightening was the only one of the five ballot initiatives to have failed on Election Day.

Nebraska: Recall effort against Bellevue Councilman abandoned

The effort against Councilman Pat Shannon is being abandoned, with petitioners not getting anywhere near the 6600 signatures needed to get on the ballot.

Michigan: Flint mayor easily survives recall vote

Mayor Karen Weaver grabbed 53 percent of the vote in the 18-person field, outpacing her nearest challenger (Councilman Scott Kincaid, who gave up running for reelection) by almost 3000 votes. Kincaid got about 32% of the vote. The issue was a trash collection contract.

Governing Magazine on why state legislative recalls are rare


Monday, November 6, 2017

Nevada: State Senate Recall gets enough valid signatures

The recall against State Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D) has gotten 15444 valids out of 17502 handed in. Petitioners need 15201. However, the Democrats still have a "decline to sign" campaign gathering signatures for removal -- that has a drop-dead date of November 13 to be handed in. The Democrats will presumably be going through the signatures more carefully -- especially trying to weed out any signers who didn't vote in the election last time. The County just did a random sampling of 5% rather than goes through each one. With a small margin for error, this one is going to go for some rounds before we get to the ballot.

The Democrats also have an odd lawsuit that essentially challenges the entire recall law. Nevada's court has a history of being anti-Recall, so maybe there is a chance of that working, but it would seem to be a longshot based on the rest of the country.

South Carolina: Editorial on the Lieutenant Governor's call for a recall law


California: Petitions filed against Calaveras School Board Trustees

Petitions have been started against President Sherri Reusche and trustee Dennis Dunnigan over questions about educational programs. Petitioners would need 833 signatures for Dunning and 830 for Reusche.

Idaho: Western Elmore County Recreation District recall set for November 7

President Art Nelson and Vice President Judy Mayne will be facing a vote on November 7 over the cancellation of a contract to build a recreation center.

Colorado: Rockvale recall set for January 16

The recall of Mayor Dan Schlaak and Trustees Jaylene Lee, Garth Leonard and Linda Grueschow is set for January 16. A former Trustee, Karyn Miller, who is one of the petition leaders complained about the process for getting the petitions approved, describing it as "pull-your-hair-out-crazy."

Issues include the firing of the Town Clerk, violations of the Sunshine Law and misuse of town funds, specifically about a two-day trucking event called "MudFest."

One trustee, Heather Criner, who failed to document the ticket sales resigned on the October 25 meeting rather than face a recall.

Michigan: Full state Appeals Court to hear Townsend selectmen recall appeal

One justice on the state Appeals Court issued an injunction to prevent the recall of Selectman Cindy King on June 19, which was upheld by one judge on the state's highest court (Supreme Judicial Court). The recall of Selectman Gordon Clark was also enjoined. The full panel of the Appeals Court will now be hearing the case.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Michigan: New Language submitted in Albion mayoral recall

A recall effort against Mayor Garrett Brown has been resubmitted -- the original was rejected. The original petition seemed to be about a negative evaluation for the city manager which ed to her letter of resignation, which was then rescinded. The lead petitioners, Chad Baase, lost in the mayoral race last year.

Alaska: Unalaska Mayor petitions approved

Petitions have been approved against Mayor Frank Kelty over an attempt to sole-source a land-use agreement at the Unalaska Marine Center. Petitioners need 168 signatures in 60 days.

California: Newport Beach Councilman turns in signature-withdrawals

Councilman Scott Peotter has handed in 1783 signature-withdrawal signatures over the past few weeks (withdrawals can be handed in incrementally but must come in before the actual signatures for the recall). Petitioners handed in 10688 signatures -- they need 8445 verifieds. Petitioners have reportedly raised $80,000 and Peotter has raised $40,000.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Nevada: A look at the use of the recall in the state

Thanks to GOP efforts against three state Senators, the Silver State is now in the recall spotlight. I’ve written a bit on the history of using recalls to flip a legislative chamber, but I want to focus on Nevada’s peculiar use of the recall and the likelihood of the success in just getting on the ballot.

Nevada is not a big user of recalls – the state has only seen two recalls get to the ballot since 2011, a Storey County Sheriff this year and a Las Vegas Councilman in 2012. Both of those officials survived the vote. There were also at least 17 other attempts to recall an official that failed since 2012.

In 2009, there were two recalls both in the same city, with a split result (one official winning, and one losing). Ballotpedia also notes a 1980 recall. This article notes that there have been 150 attempted recalls since 1993 – that number is presumably coming from the Secretary of State’s office, so that is presumably the amount of times that someone has taken out a petition against an elected official. Most of the time that is both the beginning and the end of the process, as no signatures are handed in to force a recall. A survey of recalls in the 1970s suggested that there were 12 local recalls in Nevada during that decade, which is still more than in the last decade.

No state legislator is reported to have ever faced a recall since the state first adopted the recall in 1912, though there  was an intramural 2015 attempt against three Republican Assemblymembers (including the Speaker) and a state Senator over gun control issues, as well as threats against Governors. The current recall attempts are against Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D), 14412 signatures needed, 17465 turned in; Senator Patricia Farley (Nonpartisan), which needs 7100 signatures, and Senator Nicole Cannizzaro (D) which needs 14108.

The Blocker: Nevada Supreme Court’s Active Rulings Limiting Recalls

Nevada’s Supreme Court has been very active in limiting the recall. This year, the Court ruled that judges are exempt from recalls (in what I consider a very poorly reasoned decision). In 2010, the unanimously ruled that the signatures had to be from people who actually voted in that last election. Being a registered voter is not enough. The voter actually had to be shown that he or she actually cast a ballot in the previous race (the original baseline was actually for a Supreme Court race). This decision overturned a 2009 Nevada law that opened up the signature line to be any registered voter.

Outside of that unusual provision, the rest of Nevada's recall law is standard -- you get 90 days to collect the signatures, and you need 25% of the total turnout when the position was last up for a vote. That means it is all of the voters who came out to vote, not just those who voted for the Senate seat position. This distinction does matter, as there are real drop-offs for down ballot elections (this sites quotes a paper noting a 15% drop-off). So the 25% is harder than many states, like Wisconsin, that require 25% of turnout for that specific race. However, other states (NJ – which also rarely has recalls make the ballot) require the signatures of 25% of registered voters. This is a higher standard than Nevada, though NJ doesn’t require the signers to have actually cast a ballot in the last election.

Ballot Access News' Richard Winger noted that the Nevada's Supreme Court decision arguably violated federal law. Richard (who really knows this area) argues that the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore and elsewhere have held that past votes cannot be used to bar signing petitions or from voting. Since the Nevada decision was not appealed to the federal courts, only a future decision would decide this point.

Signature Failure Rate Comparisons:

The signature failure rates -- meaning signatures tossed out for not conforming to the rules for whatever reason -- vary greatly from state to state. But there does seem to be some intrastate conformity. So in California, 15% failure is not unusual, same with Michigan. But in Arizona and Colorado, we frequently see 40% reject rates. Why this happens is not clear -- could be the law, could be attempts to protect incumbents, or it could be that the county clerks take a much harsher line on signature issues. But it does seem to be a pattern. In Colorado in 2013 we saw a recall that reversed this trend, as petitioners managed to limit the failure rate to 6%, but as a rule, it is a major issue.

It is not clear if Nevada has a high signature failure rate or not. At one point I did assume that it does – one recall had a 38% failure rate – but other recalls suggest that it may not high at all (the Storey County Sheriff's recall petitions had about an 18% failure rate). In that case, the cushion that petitioners have in the state Senate recalls may be enough to clear the bar. Of course, we can expect the Senators’ backers to go through every signature to make sure that they voted last time.

The attempted 2015 recalls against Assembly Speaker John Hambrick and two assembly members, Chris Edwards and Stephen Silberkraus all failed to garner enough signatures – and the requirement for a Hambrick recall on the ballot was low enough (4116) that it would seem to  have been a reasonable bet (obviously, the Senate and Assembly districts have different population sizes). However, that was an intraparty battle, so it may simply have been very difficult to get the signatures. In this case, you have supporters in one entire party that may be excited to sign.

Choosing the Replacement:

Generally, the recall is basically a new election. All the candidates run, and whoever gets the most votes wins (the First Past the Post system). Arizona and Michigan have this type of recall law (Wisconsin has a similar one, but also includes a party primary).

There is one wrinkle that doesn’t really affect the Senate races. If no one enters the race, there is a "for" or "against" recall vote with just the elected official on the ballot. If the official loses, then the replacement is chosen in the "manner provided by law." For the Nevada state legislature, that 
would be a special election, In this case, the elected official who was just removed in the recall vote would probably be able to run again in the replacement special election.