Wednesday, June 30, 2021

California: Legislature passes law that could fast-track recall effort

The California legislature has passed a new law (A.152) that will waive the 30-day cost review process, allowing them to speed up the recall. The law goes into effect only if the money covering the recall is already approved by the legislature, which it has. Newsom now has the bill, which he presumably will sign. At the same time, Republicans are accusing Newsom of "cheating" in the recall. 

I'm quoted in the AP piece, and, as I've noted before, this seems like a poorly thought out move. Newsom may benefit from a later recall date. Even worse, the Newsom team has now given the recall proponents another angle to attack -- claiming a corrupt process. There seems little benefit to hand over this weapon to their opponents.

Virginia: More info on Virginia Senate President Pro Temp recall effort

A further look at Virginia's recall law and what will happen in the recall effort against Virginia Senate President Pro Tempore and  State Senator Louise Lucas (D) over complaints that she asked police to refrain from arresting protestors over the confederate monument in Portsmouth. Lucas and 18 others were charged with crimes by the police chief, but the charges were thrown out and the police chief was fired.

Petitioners say they have 4651 signatures, which could be enough (they need 10% of 46500 votes). I'm wondering how a recall effort on the state level will hold up in court.


New Mexico: State Supreme Court allows recall of Otero County Commissioner to proceed

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Michael E. Vigil has affirmed the district court ruling and rejected an appeal by Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin to throw out the recall. Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump, was arrested for rioting at the US Capitol on January 6 and a State Court Judge greenlit the recall effort.

 New Mexico is a malfeasance standard state and petitioners claim that Griffin used the county office building to raise money for the group and pay personal expenses, as well as filed for improper travel expenses and accepted money from a business association leader as an offset for the expenses.

Two fellow commissioners, Vickie Marquardt and Gerald Matherly, has said they will support the recall effort if he does not resign. The Attorney General of the state has also called for his resignation. 

In addition to his participation in the seditious riot, Griffin has been accused of calling for the murder of the Governors of Virginia and Michigan, and called for violence at President Joe Biden's inauguration. 

Petitioners would need 1574 signatures in 90 days. 

Missouri: Signatures handed in against Nixa Mayor

Signatures have been handed in against Mayor Brian Steele over his support for the city's mask mandate to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Petitioners handed in 97 signatures and they need 67.  

California: Newsom Sues Secretary of State over failure to list party preference on the recall ballot

A number of stories out on the recall -- none more "own goal" than Governor Gavin Newsom suing Secretary of State Shirley Weber over the listing of his Democratic party preference on the recall ballot. Due to a change in the law in 2019, Newsom is now allowed to list his party on the recall ballot (previously, there was no party listed). However, he failed to file the paperwork that would list his party preference back in February. The lawsuit argues that the narrow timeframe allowing a party preference to be listed is arbitrary. We'll see what happens with this suit. 

California: Another candidate in the recall race

Another reality star (well, adjacent) Steve Chavez Lodge (former detective who is engaged to Vicki Gunvalson, a star of the Real Housewives of Orange County) is running for Governor. He is using the slogan of "Make California, California Again."

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Wisconsin: Petitions taken out against four Mequon-Thiensville Board of Ed members

Petitions have been taken out against four Mequon-Thiensville Board of Education Members Wendy Francour, Chris Schultz, Akram Khan and Erik Hollander over distance learning plans to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Though the plans were for the last school year, and petitioners had an election in April, they seemed to focus on it now due to what they claim are results published from opening meeting request. 

Petitioners need about 4100 signatures in 60 days. 

California: State legislature move to prevent adding ballot measures to recall election likely to stop Orange County Supervisor term limit extension

The legislature is looking to ban ballot measures from the upcoming gubernatorial recall election, with would stop an attempt to get an Orange County move to extend country supervisors' term limits. The term limit bill has engendered significant bi-partisan opposition. 

Colorado: Avon City Council votes to appeal judge ruling greenlighting recall on June 30

The Avon City Council has voted 3-2 to appeal a judge's ruling that the recall against Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and Tamra Underwood has met the signature requirements and will take place by Election Day. The court found that the undercount is now counted for purposes of the recall. Neither Hymes nor Underwood participated in the vote. 

Here's some earlier detailed coverage of the fight. I'm not sure what happened to the recall of Councilmembers Amy Phillips.

Friday, June 25, 2021

California: Conservative groups look to recruit tens of thousands for poll watching

Conservative groups are looking to tens of thousands of volunteers at the polls during the recall vote, with accusations that past volunteers of the group have engaged in intimidation tactics to suppress voting. Since there will be mail-in ballots, I wonder if that may matter less than in other places. 

Here's an editorial in the LA Times denouncing the attempt to spread the "Big Lie" of claiming any loss on your part is election fraud to California. 

Ohio: Newton Falls fails to schedule recall again, with November date rejected

 The saga of the recall of Newton Falls Councilwoman Sandra Breymaier (D) continues, as the council failed to schedule a recall for November 2, with a 2-2 vote (Councilwoman Breymaier and her supporter voted to set it on that date). The council has until July 6 to set the recall date.

The Ohio Supreme Court had previously stopped a June 1 recall election, holding that the city council did not have enough votes to legally schedule the election. It is now unclear whether the recall can go forward. 

The recall was scheduled for June 1, with a 2-1-1 vote with Breymaier abstaining.

In one of the previous failures, Breymaier's supporters looked to push the recall to the May 2022 election. This was rejected after Mayor Ken Kline (R) refused to let Breymaier vote and Breymaier's two council supporters left the meeting (and the law director was ejected). A different councilmember (who opposed the recall effort) resigned.

previous attempt to set the May 25 election date has been rejected by the County Board of Elections because three members walked out, depriving the council of a quorum. 

There was part of a previous crazy scheduling event here, as the Newton Falls City Council scheduled the recall of Councilwoman Sandra Breymaier (D) for May 25, 2021. Breymaier's supporters looked to push the recall to the May 2022 election. This was rejected after Mayor Ken Kline (R) refused to let Breymaier vote and Breymaier's two council supporters left the meeting (and the law director was ejected).

The recall is over complaint of unprofessionalism, name-calling against the mayor and a vote in favor of smart meters. Breymaier claiming that Kline is behind the recall effort. Breymaier notes that she is a swing vote on the Council. Kline denies he is behind the recall effort.  

Newton Falls has an interesting history with the recall.

Colorado: Judge rules that Avon recall must be scheduled for June 30

A judge has ruled that the recall against Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and Councilmembers Amy Phillips and Tamra Underwood has met the signature requirements and will take place on June 30. The court found that the undercount is now counted for purposes of the recall.

Very interesting discussion in the Vail Daily (written by Tom Lotshaw) on the underlying issues in the court case over the recall. The City Clerk had found that petitioners failed to hand in enough valid signatures to he recall effort is over leaving a real estate transfer tax in place is still ongoing. Petitioners need 496 signatures, though it was originally believed to be 479. They missed on Underwood by 71 and by Hymes by 51. Phillips is up for reelection in November, so the recall was not allowed based on the grace period.

Because of Vail's election law, voters can cast ballots for four candidates. So there is a significant debate on voters that did not cast all four votes (the undervote). Here's the article by Lotshaw explaining the current court fight:

Each side points to provisions governing recall processes in the Colorado Constitution and Colorado Revised Statutes. Those require signatures equaling 25% of the “entire vote cast” for all the candidates for the particular office in the last preceding election, with that 25% of the entire vote cast then divided by the number of candidates who were elected to the office in that preceding election. 

 The town and the Avon Recall Committee seem to agree that 1,984 voters cast 5,276 votes in the 2018 election for the Avon Town Council, when Hymes and Underwood were elected to their seats. Disagreement seems to center around the “undervotes” in the election, and how they should factor into the tally of votes cast. 

 With eight candidates running for four open seats on the Avon Town Council in 2018, people could vote for up to four candidates. Not every voter cast all four votes, however, resulting in 2,660 undervotes. 

 The town of Avon argues that the undervotes, along with the 5,276 votes cast, make up the “entire vote cast” total used to determine how many voter signatures the Avon Recall Committee needed to submit. That results in the town’s calculation of 496 voter signatures. 

The Avon Recall Committee, in its answer to the town’s complaint, argues that the undervotes should not be part of the total, resulting in its calculation of 330 signatures needed to trigger a recall election. 

“Had each elector cast their maximum allowable votes for town councilor positions, i.e. four votes for four open candidate seats, there would have been 7,936 total votes cast for the town councilor candidates. Under that scenario, there would have been no undervotes,” the Avon Recall Committee writes in its answer to the town’s complaint, filed Jan. 11 by attorney Alan Sweetbaum, of Denver. 

“However, the town contends there were undervotes, which necessarily eliminates the possibility that there were 7,936 total votes cast in the 2018 election for the town councilor positions. Yet, the town contends that 7,936 total votes were cast for purposes of determining the number of signatures required to trigger a recall election … The town clerk’s miscalculation improperly increased the number of signatures the town claimed were required to trigger a recall election.” 

 Wisor and Sweetbaum declined to comment on why the undervotes should be included or excluded from the total vote used to calculate the signatures needed, with more filings in the case expected in coming weeks. 

In its complaint, the town of Avon argues that interpreting Colorado law for recalls and the “entire vote cast” as the Avon Recall Committee proposes would “violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution because they require a town elector to cast the maximum votes allowed in order to have their participation in the town council election equally and fully counted for purposes of a recall.”

Tennessee: Judge rejects Nashville charter amendment election on technicality over date provision

A judge has rejected an upcoming July 27 referendum election which would have a recall provision. The judge's decision was based on a rule that required a single date for the election on the petitions, while he put two dates on the petitions.

14,000 signatures were handed in by an anti-tax attorney who is also proposing easing recall laws against Nashville city officials, with a charter amendment that will lower the amount of signatures needed to get on the ballot from 15% of turnout to 10%, expand the signature timeframe to 75 days from 30 and ban officials from running to replace themselves in a recall. 


There is a debate over how many signatures are needed. The city says that they need 31,212 signatures based on the November election. Petitioner Jim Roberts claims they should use the August election and the number would be 12,142. I don't think the judge has ruled on this. 

California: Nextdoor removes political ads promoting recall of San Francisco D.A.

Apparently the Nextdoor service does not allow political ads, so they removed ads targeting the San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Virginia: Signatures being collected against Virginia Senate President

Signatures are being collected against Virginia Senate President Pro Tempore and State Senator Louise Lucas (D) over complaints that she asked police to refrain from arresting protestors over the confederate monument in Portsmouth. Lucas and 18 others were charged with crimes by the police chief, but the charges were thrown out and the police chief was fired.

Petitioners say they have 4651 signatures, which could be enough (they need 10% of 46500 votes). I'm wondering how a recall effort on the state level will hold up in court.

North Dakota: Petitions approved against Governor and Lt. Governor

Petitions have been approved for a recall against Governor Doug Burgum (R) and Lt. Governor Brent Sanford (R). The issue seems to be complaints about the government's steps to fight the coronavirus pandemic, with complaints about being "not free" or "under bondage" for the mask mandates. Lead petitioner is Michael Coachman, who previously ran for Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor and Governor. Petitioners would need 89,464 signatures to get on the ballot.

Colorado: Buckhorn Valley Metropolitan District Board Members recall set for June 29

A recall against Gypsum's Buckhorn Valley Metropolitan District Number 2 (BVMD) President John Hill, Anna Maria Ray, David Garton, Jr. and Scott Green (a fifth seat is open) has been scheduled for June 29. Petitioners needed about 300 signatures to get on the ballot (40 percent of voters). They handed in 378. 

The issue is developer control of the community (petitioners claim the developers of the area have too much control of the board and its decisions). The cost seems to be about $65,000-$70,000.

Maryland: Recall effort threatened against Baltimore City Council members

A former Republican Baltimore Mayoral Candidate, Pastor Shannon Wright, is collecting signatures to use try for a recall against Mayor Brandon Scott, City Council President Nick Mosby, City Council Education Committee head Robert Stokes and Councilman Ryan Dorsey. The rules seem to require 75% of council members approve the effort. It's not clear if there is an actual petition or just an online one. 

California: Newsom Recall is a go; 43 verified signatures removed

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) recall is a go, with only 43 verified signers of the original petition asking to have their signatures removed. Petitioners needed 1495,709 signatures and got 1719900 valids. We now move to the next stage of the process and see if the push to schedule the recall soon happens. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Washington: Judge deciding on potential Bridgeport Council recall effort

Hearings are being held on the effort to recall five Bridgeport City Council members over claims of negligence in filing annual financial reports. Unfortunately, the story doesn't mention the council members' names, but the current Council members are Matthew Schuh, Mike Bjornstad, Jacqueline Hentges, Esiquio Martinez and Sergio Orozco (no word on a recall against Mayor Janet Conklin). Washington is a Malfeasance Standard state, so the judges has to decided if the claims are enough to get a recall on the ballot. Additionally, four members are facing elections in November, which may hit the grace period preventing a recall from occurring. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Wisconsin: Former LT. Governor looking to run in 2022 election

Former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R), who survived a recall vote along with Governor Scott Walker in 2012 (and lost in the 2018 third term attempt, is now looking to challenge Governor Tony Evers (D). And, well, no surprises here if the recall helped her out.

Arizona: Recall effort against House Speaker over pandemic shutdown fails to due lack of page attached to petitions

The recall effort against Arizona House Speaker Russell Bowers (R) has failed with petitioners handing in about 24,500 signatures, but failed to staple a recall application to each petition sheet, resulting in them all being thrown out. It should be noted that the Arizona Supreme Court has previously ruled (during the Senator Russell Pearce recall in 2011) that Arizona's recall must be treated with a more lenient "substantial compliance" standard rather than a strict compliance one. No idea if that could come into play if there is an appeal. It may not matter, as they need 22,331 signatures by June 17, which would need a surprisingly low reject rate.  

The recall effort was undertaken by a rightwing group over not calling a special session during the Coronavirus pandemic (presumably to overturn the governor's shutdown procedures) and the "failure to protect the integrity of the 2020 election" by a group looking to overturn the results of the election.


California: Petitions taken out against Elk Grove Unified School District trustee

Petitions have been taken out against Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee Nancy Chaires Espinoza over complaints about school reopenings following the coronavirus pandemic. Petitioners need more than 18,700 signatures by November 17.

Malaysia: Coalition for Clean and Fair Election stages mock recall

 The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections is staging a mock recall and more here.

Washington: Gubernatorial Recall dismissed, Inslee expresses concern on moves to "relitigate" elections

A Washington State Superior Court has rejected the latest effort to recall Governor Jay Inslee over steps he took to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Inslee also took a shot at the effort: “I think all of us are concerned about efforts that are ongoing to relitigate elections.” Inlsee stated, “We ought to be concerned about ongoing efforts not to accept election results. I hope we can have elections and follow them.”

Friday, June 18, 2021

California: More discussion of Newsom recall date; First ad campaign out; "Seismic" changes in California helps Newsom

Election officials are concerned that an early recall date (before mid-September) could greatly increase the cost of the recall. 

A look at how California is changing by party

Newsom runs his first ads

Michigan: Chelsea School Board President facing petitions

Chelsea School Board President Kristin Van Reesema is facing a recall effort after not holding a meeting to increase in person learning to 20 hours in March. Petitioners claim that the school lost about $800,000 in funding due to the vote. 


Maine: Portland Charter Commission member recall shot down by City Attorney

The recall effort against Portland Charter Commission member Nasreen Sheikh-Yousef (at-large) has been rejected by the City Attorney. The City Charter recall is only applicable for city councilors and school board members, with a year grace period for the end of the term. State law allows recalls for muncipal officials, but only under a malfeasance standard of being convicted of a crime against the municipality. 

The recall threat was after Sheikh-Yousef called the City Manager (who is stepping down next spring) a white supremacist in a tweet right after winning election on June 8. 

Oregon: Second State Senator facing recall effort over showing up to vote on gun control bill

Oregon State Senator Lynn Findley (R) is facing a recall effort led by gun ownership supporters for a fairly new reason. Findley strongly opposed a gun control bill that would mandate storage requirements for guns, ban guns from the state capitol and allow schools and universities to adopt their own gun bans. However, was one of only six Republicans to attend the session, giving Democrats a quorum to enact the changes (Oregon has had significant issues with Republicans denying quorums). Petitioners are also upset about a proposed Senate bill that would prevent state level elected officials from serving on a political party central committee. Petitioners would need 8,289 signatures by September 13.

Findley is the second Republican to face a recall effort over their role in showing up to work. Senate Minority Leader Fred Girod (R) is also facing this threat, with petitions due by July 6. 

California: A tactical argument for a late recall -- my op-ed in the LA Daily News

We've seen repeated signs that leading Democrats are pushing to move up the date of a recall election by eliminating some of the lag in the recall law. The LA Times' Mark Barabak may have the best explanation for this plan with an old political saying: "If you got the votes, call the roll." 

I take a counter position in this op-ed in the LA Daily News. You can read the piece to get the full opinion, but I'd first note that "calling the roll" in this case means scheduling an event at least two months from now. I suspect that the fear of "something can go wrong" misses out on the fact that something can just as easily go wrong in the shorter timeframe. The extra time doesn't add that much to the danger.

So what would Newsom be sacrificing to get this over with earlier? 

1) more time to get away from any lingering complaints of the pandemic. 

2) Enough of a cushion to make sure that any problems with school reopening are worked out before the vote. A major source of complaints and especially recalls have been targeting school board members for shutdowns and hybrid learning. This is one area that an "early surprise" can truly blow up in Newsom's face.

3) Money -- and lots of it. Newsom's fundraising will kick into high gear. I suspect that he will greatly outraise the pro-Recall side -- witness the Walker campaign in 2012. There's a good chance that most of the pro-recall money will come from small donors, and, as we've seen, there's a good chance that will be siphoned off to "other uses" or will involve an incredibly high cost ratio to raise the funds (allowing fundraisers to make a tidy profit). A good portion of the money is likely to go to replacement candidates and their campaigns, which is unlikely to make as good an argument for the recall -- remember, the replacement candidates are also competing against one and other.

4) This extra money will allow Newsom to dominate the campaign and the airwaves. The longer timeframe he has, the better that a strong campaign works.

5) This part is not in the piece, but it may illustrate why this is important. In 2008, Michigan Speaker of the House Andy Dillon faced a recall vote. The recall was scheduled for November -- the same day as his reelection run. If Dillon was removed, he would only be out for a few months. Presumably, the two votes would be very similar. They were, but the discrepancy may mean something. Dillon won the recall vote 14,257-23,987, and he won his reelection race 14,311-27,864. Now you can say there is a natural drop off in vote as it gets further down the ballot. But that drop off is not evenly distributed. The kick-Dillon-out campaign lost only 54 votes. But the keep-Dillon-in-power saw a drop-off of 3,877. This is one race. Maybe you feel it's not so important. Maybe you look at other famous past instances of appearing on the same ballot twice in one election and feel this doesn't mean too much. I would argue that what this may show is voters in favor of the recall are more motivated and interested in punishing the elected official. Which brings us to...

6) Newsom presumably has a lead in voters who would naturally vote for him. More time will allow Newsom and the Democrats to educate voters about the recall and make sure that they get out and cast their ballot. More time can help Newsom organize this turnout and education effort, which may be more important than any other factor in his survival. 

There are other arguments suggesting that a speedier recall would help Newsom. I think the most powerful is that the replacement candidates are in disarray and there has been no coalescing around any one contender. The only candidate who has got the most attention, Caitlyn Jenner, has been nothing short of a disaster. The longer time frame could allow the pro-recall forces to hit on the right candidate and "catch fire." 

I'd say that a longer campaign is a risk worth taking for Newsom. Increasing turnout and leaning into your monetary advantage is likely to be more valuable than focusing on what the opponents can do. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

California: New recall attempt against Los Angeles Councilmember

Another recall attempt has been filed against Councilman Mike Bonin, this time over homeless issues, though they previously were talking about his support for the shutdowns to prevent further damage from the coronavirus pandemic. Bonin previously faced a recall effort in 2017-2018 over his road diet plan -- the DOT's removal of 9.4 miles of traffic lanes to prevent pedestrian deaths. 

Lat time, petitioners needed 27,000 signatures and claim to have raised over $100,000. One of the petitioners back then was Mike Ryavec, who lost to Bonin in the last election in 2017.

Ohio: Signatures (14!) handed in against Mifflin Mayor

Signatures have been filed against Mifflin Mayor Vickie Shultz -- petitioners need 11 signatures and got 14 (which are still being verified). The total required is 15% of turnout. The recall effort was led by former Mayor Fred Craig after Mifflin voters decreased the stipend and council members pay from $2200 to $2 a year, and $40-$60 a meeting to $1 a meeting. However, due to the law, they are still being paid the original amount.  There is also complaints about violations at the village's sewage facility. 

Craig ran against Shultz (who has been in office since 2016) in 2019, but lost 38-22. 

Maine: Portland Charter Commission member facing recall threats

Portland Charter Commission member Nasreen Sheikh-Yousef (at-large) is facing recall threats after calling the City Manager (who is stepping down next spring) a white supremacist in a tweet right after winning election on June 8.

Colorado: Peak to Peak School Board member kicked out in recall vote

Peak to Peak Charter School (in Lafayette) board member Ari Axelrod was ousted in a recall, with 820 parents and staffers voting to recall. There are 1828 people eligible to vote. To win the election, Petitioners need both 30% of eligible voter turnout and 66% in favor of the recall. The issue was complaints about behavior. DAvid Woo is replacing him.

Oregon: Grant County Judge facing recall effort

Petitions are set to be taken out against Grant County Judge Scott Myers over complaints about administrative oversight and spending funds, as well as a complaints about failure invest in economic development. Petitioners need 578 signatures by September 8. A county judge is not really a judge, it is more of an executive position.

Pennsylvania: New Bill moves out of committee providing recall for Philadelphia

The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee has passed allowing recalls in Philadelphia. A previous version of the bill had previously allowed recalls against state executive officers, though not against the Republican-dominated legislature (Rhode Island also has a recall law that leaves out the legislature). The vote was on a party-line.  Philadelphia's previous recall law was struck down in a 1976 State Supreme Court case

Minnesota: Red Wing City Council refuses to schedule recall elections against two council members, citing malfeasance standard

The Red Wing City Council has refused to set a recall election date against council members Erin Buss and Evan Brown. There has been recall efforts against six City Council members, Buss, Brown, Dean Hove, Andy Klitzke, Becky Norton, and Laurel Stinson. Five of them have got enough signatures (they are still counting for Hove). The recall effort follows the firing of the Police Chief (the vote was 6-1). The City Council vote was 6-1.

Minnesota is a malfeasance standard state, so petitioners will need to show a statutorily specific reason for the recall. The council is claiming that the recall does not meet the standard. There has been only one recall that I've seen in Minnesota since 2011, and it is likely there hasn't been another one since the state-wide adoption of a recall law in 1996. 


Arizona: Recall Effort against State Representative fails

The recall effort against State Representative Mark Finchem (R) has ended, with petitioners claiming that they collected more than 18,000 signatures and needed 24,774 to get on the ballot. 

The recall was over Finchem support for the Capitol Hill riots on January 6th and the attempted overthrow of the presidential election. Finchem alleged that the group is defaming him, presumably by running a recall effort. Finchem is running for Secretary of State, where he would be in charge of elections. 

The effort had been facing questions after the Chair of the Casa Grande Democrats, Ralph Atchue stepped back from the effort to let professionals run it. Representative Athena Salman (D) has also introduced a resolution to expel Finchem. Finchem accepted more than $6000 from Trump in Recount legal consulting. After facing an ethics complaint, Finchem filed ethic complaints against nearly all Democrats in the state legislature, which went nowhere. 

California: Replacement candidates must disclose five years of tax returns to run

Secretary of State Shirley Weber has said that a law that requires candidates to release five years of tax information will apply to recall replacement candidates. The law was struck down for presidential candidates but  does require disclosure for gubernatorial ones. There's a debate whether recalls should count (as it is a special election, the law specifies primaries), but Weber is claiming that they can use the primary election requirements based on the 2003 precedent. Good chance that this sees a lawsuit. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Ballotpedia's mid-year recall report out

The good folks at Ballotpedia have released their mid-year report for the recall -- noting 262 recalls (in 164 different jurisdictions), which they cite as the most since 2016. School board members are the big jump here -- which is directly related to the coronavirus. We're still waiting to see how many recalls actually get to the ballot.

Here's some more thoughts on it at the Hill.

Colorado: Lawsuit seeks to throw out new law limiting donations to Loveland Councilmember recall effort

There is now a lawsuit seeking to stop a new law requiring a $130 maximum on contributions to local campaigns, with the Committee to Recall Don Overcash arguing that the new position targets them.

The recall against Loveland City Council member Don Overcash is  over his revelation of not-yet- public information for a In-N-Out Burger drive-thru. Overcash is also allegedly hostile to the mayor and two other councilors. 

Overcash is running for mayor (so far unopposed). The lead petitioner is former city council member Troy Krenning. 

Petitioners need 1254 signatures in 90 days. 

Massachusetts: Cheshire Town meeting to vote on moving potential recall laws forward

An upcoming Cheshire Town Meeting will vote on allowing Selectmen to ask for legislation to provide for recalls for town officials (presumably this is asking for the state legislators and governor to approve such a law). Petitions would require 3% of registered voters or 100 voters, whichever is less, though they only have 20 days to gather the signatures. The official can run in the replacement race. 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

California: Are recalls increasing -- a look at the local recall efforts

Here's an article in the LA Times (which quotes me) looking at the phenomena of increased recalls. I'm not sure if there is an increase or if it is simply the fact that one or two national issues (Covid and police/BLM protests) have dominated recall fights this year (as opposed to the usual, say a firing of a city manager), allowing people to notice the issue. We'll see how it plays out. 

California: New law allows waiving part of extended time frame for recall

In the continued push for an earlier recall timeframe, the legislatures are passing a law (A.152) that will waive the 30-day cost review process, allowing them to speed up the recall. The law goes into affect only if the money covering the recall is already approved by the legislature. 

Colorado: Three Pioneer Park School Board Members facing petitions

Pioneer Park School Board Members Jodene Boerner, Jill Brownell and Jennifer Ogley are facing petitions over claims about a hostile work environment causing employees to leave. No word on how many signatures are needed.

Friday, June 11, 2021

California: Kingsburg City Council member facing recall threats

Kingsburg City Councilmember Jewell Hurtado is facing petitions over what opponents call a "socialist agenda." Unfortunately, I can't open the document to get more details.

Massachusetts: Boston City Council adopts law allowing removal of City Council President

Not a recall exactly, but the Boston City Council has passed a law allowing it to remove the City Council President (though they would still serve as council member). The current City Council President Kim Janey is now serving as acting Mayor and is running for a full term. Also running -- three other city council members. 

Washington: Key union supports recall effort against Seattle City Council member

 A key union, the Seattle Building and Constructions Trade Council, has come out in favor of a recall effort against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant (the first socialist elected to Seattle's council in 100 years). Petitioners are gathering signature after the State Supreme Court upheld a lower court judge ruling approving the recall effort against Two of the six charges were dismissed sat the lower level. Sawant would be the first councilmember to face a recall in Seattle's history (though two Mayors were kicked out).

The recall effort was over a kitchen sink of complaints, including revealing the mayor's home address, giving decision-making authority to Socialist Alternative (which has been a complaint against her before, though it was dismissed by the Ethics and Election Commission), promoting a ballot initiative, letting protesters in City Hall after hours and helping to create a criminal environment.

Petitioners would need 10,739 signatures to get on the ballot. Washington is also a "malfeasance standard/judicial recall state", so a recall effort needed to get approval to get on the ballot.

Both sides have raised about $500,000.

California: $215 Million cost analysis for the Newsom recall

A new analysis projected that the cost of the recall would be $215 million, which is less than the $400 million first proposed, but much higher than the 2003 recall costs. Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon seem to be looking to get the recall on the ballot early. They said:

"By providing counties with the funding they need, we can waive the required period for the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to review the election costs."

It is not clear that a court will uphold this legal argument.

As I noted earlier, I would expect that the Democrats want to tout a very high number, so they can argue the recall is a waste of money, and Republicans want a low one. Dianne Feinstein used the "waste of money" argument to great effect in her 1983 San Francisco Mayoral recall and I would expect that it will be one of the pillars of the Newsom campaign (the other pillar being a straight D v. R argument that helped Newsom get a 24% margin in 2018).


Thursday, June 10, 2021

California: Petitions target newly elected Los Angeles Councilwoman

Petitions are being taken out against Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman over complaints of inexperience, unresponsiveness and being a political radical. Among the issues are policing, homeless and Raman's opposition to height limits on buildings in several neighborhoods.

Raman, who was elected in November after being the first official to defeat an incumbent in 17 years, says she has a "broad progressive agenda." Raman had the support of the Democratic Socialists of America.  Petitioners need more than 27,000 signatures to get on the ballot. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

California: Newsom Recall Roundup -- Judge who gave signature gathering more time worked at same firm as lead attorney; Power outages and more on timing

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles, who granted the Newsom Recall campaign extra time to collect signatures was a former law partner of the attorney who argued the case. Both Arguelles and Bradley Benbrook were at Stevens, O'Connell & Jacobs. Somewhat surprised the judge didn't just recuse himself. 

67 candidates are in the recall effort and social media shooting stars are prominent among them

Throwback Thursday -- Does Newsom have to worry about power outages (and droughts)?

When will the recall take place? I'm quoted in here saying that Newsom may have a big benefit from a late recall effort

Newsom's raised over $15 million

Mexico: Will Morena's poor result in elections lead to a rethinking of AMLO recall?

Here -- if AMLO goes through with the recall (which is a liberal use of the term "recall"), it may be the first time someone launched a recall against themselves.

Oregon: Interview with campaign manager of Portland Mayor recall effort

Here's the interview focused on the fact that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler got 46% of the vote in his reelection run (the second place candidate got 23%). 

Colorado: 99 rounds of voting fails to find a replacement in Westminster city council after recall leads to resignation

A new record has been set in Westminster, as the city council failed to fill a vacant council seat after 99 rounds of voting. This was after it took 78 rounds of voting to choose a replacement for Westminster Mayor Pro Tem following the resignation of Mayor Herb Atchison. Atchison resigned after signatures were verified in the recall effort against him and the previous Mayor Pro Temp (Councilor Anita Seitz) moved up to the position. No word yet on a replacement for Atchison in his councilor position. Councilor David DeMott was selected for the Mayor Pro Tem position.

The recall vote against Atchison is off, but there is still one set to take place in July against Councilor Jon Voelz.

The Westminster recall has taken a number of twists and turns. Petitioners got enough signatures for Atchison and Voelz to get to the ballot, but petitions against Councilors Anita Seitz and Kathryn Skulley failed to clear the bar. 

state judge ruled that a city clerk was wrong in tossing out signatures due to petitioners unstapling the cover sheets of the petitions. The judge ruled that the stapling issue was unintentional. The recall is over water bills. Petitioners needed 25% of turnout, which is 5009 signatures for Atchison and 6,098 for the three council members. Skulley's signatures missed by 61; Atchison by 282; Voelz by 635 and Seitz by 757. Atchison's effort got more than a 1000 over the limit and Voelz just got 9. Seitz missed by 35 signatures and Skulley by 23.

New Mexico: Las Cruces School Board member resigns -- Supreme Court sitting on a recall effort against three members since 2019

Las Cruces School Board member Terrie Dallman resigned as she complained of harassment and mismanagement of a superintendent search. Dallman, Maria Flores and Ray Jaramillo are all facing a years-long recall threat over claims of violating open meeting laws and adding central office jobs during a hiring freeze. 

A State Court Judge green lit the recall effort, but the state Supreme Court has been sitting on the case since 2019. As a malfeasance state, a judge needed to first rule if the ground are valid.

If a recall would be allowed, petitioners would need 33 1/3rd of turnout, which is 424 for Flores, 252 for Dallman and 83 for Jaramillo. Any empty seat is filled by appointment.

California: Parajo Valley School Board member files response to recall effort

Parajo Valley School Board Trustee Georgia Acosta (in Watsonville) is saying that she has missed meetings due to surgery and cancer treatments. Acosta is facing a recall effort after missing 26 board meetings (it seems she attended between 80-85% of meetings), trying to charge the district $16K for an outside legal counsel and her role in the firing of Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez (who was later reinstated). Petitioners need 25% of the approximately 8600 voters (so about 2150 signatures). The cost is estimated between $42,960-$77,328, though Acosta is claiming it would cost $100,000.

Oregon: Ontario City Councilor recall set for July 6

The recall of Ontario City Councilmember Freddy Rodriguez is now scheduled for July 6, with ballots being mailed out on June 16. Petitioners seeking the recall needed 493 valid signatures to get on the ballot. Rodriguez has had restraining orders for domestic violence filed against him.

Maine: Two Hope Select Board members survive recall vote

Hope Select Board members Bruce Haffner (128-128) and Elinor Goldberg (102-154) survived recall votes. The recall provision is an "absentee veto" won, where the recall needs to get 40% of the turnout for the last gubernatorial election. That number was 374, and they only got 277, so while the Haffner tie vote looks close (and presumably ties go to the elected official -- you stay in office), in this case it did not matter.

The recall seems to be about Haffner's push to check out a snowplow contract that the city signed, as well as questions over the concealment of a contract (and a secret taping of Haffner).  It seems that the Board Chair and the City Administrator were pushing for the recall, so it is very much an inter-board dispute.

Hope only recently adopted the recall law. 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

California: Two other Vernon councilmembers facing September 14 recall vote

A new pair of Vernon City Councilmembers William Davis and Melissa Ybarra are facing an upcoming recall vote  Last week, Verrnon City Councilmembers Diana Gonzales (56-23) and Carol Menke (59-20) were ousted in a June 1 recall, with Gonzales replaced by Judith Merlo and Menke replaced by Crystal Larios.

Davis and Ybarra, who are seen as political opponents of the two ousted officials, are scheduled for a September 14 recall. 

The recall effort was over support for a solar and wind project that is proposed by a developer who is accused of stealing $20 million from City Industry, though Gonzales and Menke claim that it is about their challenges to an attempt to put family members of Mayor Leticia Lopez's in city-owned housing (there are few privately owned homes). 

Vernon is similar to the City of Industry and Bell (extremely small cities near L.A. that are seen as industrial and frequently complained about as tightly controlled by a small group of residents). Vernon is the smallest incorporated municipality in California with only 130 people, though it and its public utility seem to have a combined $300M budget.

Washington: Legal fees reported in Kent School Board members' recall defense

The Kent school board has spent $21,302 defending four School Board members, Leslie Hamada, Michele Bettinger, Denise Daniels and Maya Vengadasalam from recall petitions. The petitions against Daniels or Vengadasalam were tossed out because it is within the six month grace period before the next election (neither are running for reelection). The article seems to suggest that petitions were dropped against the other two, but it also mentions an upcoming court hearing. Washington is a Malfeasance Standard/Judicial Recall state, so a judge has to approve the charges before the recall can go forward.

The lead petitioner Bryon Madsen, lost to Daniels in 2017 and is running for her seat.  

The fifth board member (Joe Bento) was appointed last year and is running unopposed. 

The petitions seem to be focused on a Superintendent no confidence vote from the education association (I'm actually not sure who passed the no confidence vote) and a host of other complaints. 

Petitioners would need 10,991 signatures for Bettinger and 8802 for Hamada. They have 180 days to get the signature.

Colorado: Peak to Peak School Board member facing upcoming recall vote

Peak to Peak Charter School (in Lafayette)  board member Ari Axelrod is facing a recall election on June 10. Petitioners handed in 266 valid signatures and needed 202. To win the election, Petitioners need both 30% of eligible voter turnout and 66% in favor of the recall. Already four people are running in a replacement race. The issue is complaints about behavior. 

Wisconsin: Dodge County Supervisor recall scheduled for July 13

Dodge County Supervisor Thomas J. Schaefer is facing a recall vote on July 13 (unless there is a primary, which would be held on the 13th and the election held on August 10). The lead petitioner Dan Siegmann has filed to run. Petitioners handed in 381 signatures. 

No word on what the recall is over.

California: Details on Oceanside City Council recall

Some more details about the recall effort against Oceanside City Councilmember Kori Jensen. Jensen was appointed to the council in January and the complaints include her being appointed instead of having an election, not being known in the community, trust and transparency issues over her primary residence (claiming that she does not actually live in the district), delinquent taxes and a vote to close a swim center.

Petitioners needs 4,484 signatures.

Friday, June 4, 2021

California: Newsom Recall Roundup -- Union, the turnout myth and cost estimates getting in there

Newsom counting on Unions to push his campaign (though I'm not really sure that I buy the argument) 

Sacramento Bee looks into how voter turnout works in a high-profile recall

51 of 58 counties have sent their cost estimate into the Department of Finance, resulting in more discussion on how this can be used to speed up the recall vote.

Caitlyn Jenner in the news again, saying California is sick -- this one may not have been held in an airport hanger.

California: Petitions approved in three Lucia Mar School Board Trustees recall effort

The petitions have been approved in the recall effort against Lucia Mar School Board Trustees Don Stewart, Colleen Martin and Dee Santos over the board's policies to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Petitioners claim that the board took too long in reopening, while the board has said they simply followed state guidelines. Petitioners need 8302 signatures to get to the ballot. A special election is estimated to cost $350,000

California: Livingston Mayor and two councilmembers facing petitions

Petitions are being taken out against Livingston Mayor Juan Aguilar, Mayor Pro-Tem Raul Garcia and Councilmember Gagandeep Kang. It is not clear what the recall is about, though Kang was accused of misconduct for crude comments in January. 

Two new Direct Democracy Books

Wanted to point out two relatively new books mentioned on the Election Law Blog out now on Direct Democracy that look worth checking out:

Chris Micheli's Cases and Materials on Direct Democracy in California

John G. Matsusaka's Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge

Thursday, June 3, 2021

North Dakota: Four Fargo School Board members face recall threats

Four Fargo School Board members, Seth Holden, Tracie Newman, Nikkie Gullickson and Jim Johnson, are facing recall effort over their support for hybrid learning initiatives to prevent the coronavirus pandemic. The petitioners cite other grievances, but the Facebook page is ND Parents Against Distance Learning, so... Petitioners need 4,144 signatures for each to get on the ballot. The other five board members are in the one year end-of-term grace period, so they can't face a vote.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

California: Two Vernon Councilmembers ousted in recall vote

Verrnon City Councilmembers Diana Gonzales (56-23) and Carol Menke (59-20) were ousted in a recall on June 1. Gonzales was replaced by Judith Merlo and Menke was replaced by Crystal Larios. Turnout was reported to be 66%.

The recall effort was over support for a solar and wind project that is proposed by a developer who is accused of stealing $20 million from City Industry, though Gonzales and Menke claim that it is about their challenges to an attempt to put family members of Mayor Leticia Lopez's in city-owned housing. Vernon is similar to the City of Industry and Bell (extremely small cities near L.A. that are seen as industrial and frequently complained about as tightly controlled by a small group of residents).

California: Newsom recall roundup -- Another Contender! Paramount ponies up; and more on the early vs. late debate

Mark Barabak on the early vs. late election debate

More on the Caitlyn Jenner spotlight stealing effect on the recall

Paramount gives $40K to the Newsom defense effort

Oral History of the Gray Davis recall

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley is now considering running

Ohio: Board of Elections "eats" cost of temporarily cancelled Newton Fall recall

Following the (temporary) cancellation by the Ohio Supreme Court of the June 1 recall election of Newton Fall Councilwoman Sandra Breymaier (D), the Turmbull County Board of Elections will have to pay the $500-$1000 cost of the cancellation.

Oregon: Portland Mayor recall kick-off scheduled for July

Petitioners are aiming for a July kick-off to the recall campaign against newly reelected Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) and they have hired a campaign manager. 

Wheeler has a six month grace period once his new term starts. Petitioners would need 35,925 valid signatures to get on the ballot. 

California: Petitions approved in Shasta County Supervisor recall

Petitions have been approved in the Shasta County Supervisor recall, which had previously run into problems, as petitioners failed to sign the ad taken out in the newspaper. Supervisors Leonard Moty, (4308 signatures needed) Mary Rickert (4432 needed) and Joe Chimenti (4392 needed) are facing threats over their support for restrictions to fight the Covid pandemic. 

Here's a vastly more detailed look at the fight, which notes that petitioners would need about 4000 valid signatures. There is also a claim that the recall proponents have copied their logo from the QAnon logo. 

The cost is between $200,000 and $400,000.

California: Recall effort against San Diego Council President fails

The recall effort against San Diego City Council President Jennifer Campbell has failed, with petitioners claiming that they got over 10,000 signatures. They needed either 14,1421 or 13,353 (I've seen both numbers reported) valids to get on the ballot. 

The recall started over what seems to be a vote on costal height policies and mainly short-term rentals in the city. Campbell argued that there is simply no possibility of banning short term rentals, which some residents in her district want. Former City Councilwoman Barbara Bry supported the recall effort.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

My article in the Hill: The three big myths of Recall Elections -- and how two maybe wrong

Proponents of the recall against Gavin Newsom may be basing their efforts on three key myths about recall elections.

1) Recalls succeed in ousting officials

2) Special Elections are more likely to result in an official being removed

3) Turnout will drop 

I wrote an op-ed in the Hill that looks at all three of these myths. Only one – the first – is accurate for the Newsom recall. 

California has had 110 recall elections go to a vote over the last 10 years. 78.5% of them have resulted in removal. This is much higher than the nationwide number (the one-day/two-step process is not likely to be the cause, as Colorado uses the same procedure).

However, the other two points are not accurate for Newsom. Recalls held on a special election day do not result in a greater removal rate than those held on a general election day (a fact that surprised me).

Most importantly, turnout has not gone down for gubernatorial recalls. In every case, and in the case of high profile mayoral recalls, we’ve seen turnout shoot up. 

What does this mean? We'll see.