Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Colorado: Denver School Board facing resign or face recall threats

Following the shooting of two deans at a high school, the seven members of the Denver School Board are facing recall threats and an online petition to resign. 

Michigan: Petitions approved against Burton City Councilmember

Petitions have now been approved against Burton City Councilman Greg Hull is facing a recall effort following a guilty plea and a three-day jail sentence for operating a vehicle while impaired. The petitions were previously rejected due to erors and are being refiled. 

Idaho: Horseshoe Bend Councilmember facing petitions

Horseshoe Bend Councilmember Curtis Corvinus is facing petitions over claims that he stole $3600 from a volunteer fire district when he served as fire chief. Corvinus is set to face for the theft in May. Petitioners need 20% of registered voers signature in 75 days (the town has about 1000 people). Idaho has a Queen of the Hill provision, so a recall election would require voters to cast more votes for removal than Corvinus received in his original election win. 

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Louisiana: Huge problems in signatures submitted in New Orleans Mayoral recall

More significant fallout in the recall effort against New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, as the signatures appear to have truly fantastic problems. The Registrar notes that the second batch of signatures (discussed here) seems to have consisted of duplicate photocopied versions of the original signatures -- which explains the 99% rejection rate. 

Additionally, a good number of signatures were clearly fake, including a page of cartoon characters. Note the Wisconsin 2012 recall saw this issue discussed at length (though only 5 fake signatures were found). There was also the great Japan recall, which saw hundreds of thousands of fake signatures. And today, in California, the Gascon recall found 367 names of dead people.

No word on whether there will be a prosecution for any clearly fraudulent signatures.

California: 367 signers of LA District Attorney George Gascon recall were dead

The recall effort against Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon is apparently as dead as some of the signers. 367 signers of the petitions (out of 715K) were dead at the time the petitions were started. The Registrar has contacted the D.A.'s office over this (some of the same names were submitted on an initiative effort). 

California: New bill targets signature-gathering industry

Here's a look at AB 421, which is designed to require that 10% of signatures on initiatives and referenda be collected by unpaid volunteers, if those laws are looking to repeal or amend newly enacted laws. IT also would require mandatory training and badges and id numbers.  Assume that the second part would hit recalls. As mentioned in the past, paying for signature gathering goes all the way back. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Louisiana: New Orleans does not disappoint in a wild finish to recall, with petitioners not getting the signatures

The recall effort against New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell seems to have ended in a wild finish today, as petitioners were found not to have come close to handing in enough signatures, with an extremely large signature failure rate. In the end (after refusing to state a number before) petitioners handed in 67,046 signatures. However, they only had 27243 signatures verified, for an eye-watering 59% failure rate. Outside of the Cleveland Mayor recall in 2015 (where a technical deficiency led to a 98% rejection rate), this is the highest failure rate of a significant recall in the US that I can think of. 

What seems to have happened, as previously discussed, petitioners handed in the signatures in two batches. The first was 34625 (+7 addiitons), of which 7411 were rejected. The second batch came during the odd five day grace period to add or strike your name. There, 32,421 signatures were handed in. Only 24 were certified and 32,397 were tossed out (4783 for duplication, the rest for other reasons). 

Based on the law, the signatures handed in during the five overtime had to be collected during that time period. They were not -- which leads to real questions as to why there was a delay in handing them in on time. Was it a blown move or could this have been intentional, -- preuming that they didn't have enough signatures to make the ballot, this would give it the sheen of a technical rejection. It's not clear.

So far, the petitioners are talking about appealing (and also blaming the Times-Picatyune/ Advocate for suing to check the signatures, an odd complaint). It all strikes the same tone as the failed Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon recall effort. Note that the recall petitioners apparently spent $1.2 million in the effort (with close to $500K from one notable GOP donor).

Presumably, the lawsuit that was filed against the Secretary of State's decision to not actually remove anyone from the rolls, but(phantom-runner style) strike 25000 names just for the purpose of the recall, thereby lowering the number of signatures needed by 5000. is no longer needed and will be moot. Cantrell has also filed over the Judge's signing the recall petition herself (though that seems less like to succeed). 

Friday, March 17, 2023

California: West Hollywood Mayor facing petitions

West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne is facing petitions over a cavalcade of complaints, with claims of retaliations against a rape victim and a disabled resident, as well as attacking a former Chamber of Commerce member and voting to defund the police. Shyne has recently announced that she would run for Congress, so perhaps that's a part of this. 

Petitioners would need about 6000 signatures to make the ballot.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Maryland: Baltimore Sun editorial opposing proposed recall law

Unfortunately, I cannot see the whole piece, but if you can, here it is. 

Ohio: Newton Falls Councilwoman recall vote scheduled for November 7

Newton Falls Councilwoman Tesa Spletzer is facing a potential recall election on November 7. Petitioners handed in 139 valid signatures and needed 101. 

Speltzer is accused of misbehavior at council meetings and an amorphous list of misfeasance complaints.

Newton Falls was the site of a one of the more contested 2021 recalls, where Councilwoman Sandra Breymaier lost a recall after appealing to the state Supreme Court (and having the election canceled once). Councilman John Baryak lost a recall in 1993 and then survived one in 2019. 

Michigan: State legislators facing recall threats over gun control legislation

Michigan State legislators are facing recall threats over potential gun control laws being proposed following the latest mass shooting at a campus. No word yet on specific legislators being targeted, but three Michigan legislators have faced (and lost) recall elections -- two in 1983 and one in 2011. The 1983 recalls resulted in a switch in power from Democrats to Republicans, which was only reversed this election. Gun control has also been at the center of the 1994 California Senate President Pro Temp David Roberti recall and the 2013 Colorado State Senate recalls

Canada: Calgary looks to adopt recall law with very high signature hurdle

Calgary City Councillors are debating whether to adopt a recall law targeting the legislature, munciipal politicians and school board trustees. 

Petitioners would require 40% of the population, though must be eligible voters. That sounds like a significantly larger signature requirement than in US jurisdictions (almost all use either voter turnout or registered voter requirement). I do not know if they mean registered voters and if the population includes the much larger group of children and others who cannot vote, making this a particularly high hurdle. One professor notes that the signature requirement would be higher than the number of voters who cast ballots in the previous election. In one district, 99% of eligible voters would have to sign to get the petition on the ballot.

It sounds like the election would be UK style -- an immediate removal and a special election (or by-election) replacement race where the official can run for the position. 

An official can face only one recall per term.

One official, Ward 4 Councillor Sean Chu, is likely to face a recall effort over claims of sexually assaulting a 16 year old girl in 1997. Chu has rejected calls to step down. 

Michigan: Marshall Township Trustee facing recall effort

Petitions have been taken out against Marshall Township Trustee Robert Lyng. No word in the article about why the recall is taking place, but perhaps it is this vote for a megasite for development

Update: The petitions were approved on a second effort. The issue is a proposed development site.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Louisiana: New Orleans Mayor files suit against the Secretary of State's decision and significant questions on whether petitioners have the goods

Got a real barnburner in New Orleans, with Mayor LaToya Cantrell filing a lawsuit over the Secretary of State's decision not actually remove anyone from the rolls, but will (phantom-runner style) strike 25000 names just for the purpose of the recall, thereby lowering the number of signatures needed by 5000. Cantrell has also filed over the Judge's signing the recall petition herself (though that seems less like to succeed). 

Note by law the Secretary of State needed to set the number in August. Here's the Secretary of State blaming the Governor on what is a national issue over complaints about voter rolls (and its use in voter suppression efforts). 

Additionally, the petitioners have finally turned over signatures to the newspapers -- and they look like they are nowhere close to the number of signatures (32,000 -- need either 49k+ or 44+ depending on the SoS's decision). However, another plot twist came about as they have 7000 sheets that they didn't turn over (they handed over 10,000). Here's a lawyer pointing out that the judges may just wait to let the registrar decide that the petitioners don't have the signatures. So what does that mean? New Orleans living up to its billing. 

California: Interview on KPFA's Law and Disorder about recalls

 Here's an interview that I did. Nice little edge to this one as we debate the use of recalls.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Colorado: State looks to handle local recall quorum problem

Colorado's House passed a bill that looks to handle the problem of what to do when a recall results in a lack of a quorum in a municipality. The bill would allow the town clerk to call an election. 

The original bill also looked to limit replacement candidates in a recall to people who are in the same political party. This is apparently seen as a way of heading off gun control recalls like in 2013 that took out Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron. Colorado already has a provision like this if the official resigns in the face of a recall. Idaho has a similar law for state officials. It seems that the provision was dropped.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Ohio: Signatures to be handed in against Waterville Councilmembers

Petitioners are set to hand in signatures for the recall of Waterville Councilmember Anthony Bruno and John Rozic over a vote in favor of the construction of a concert venue/amphitheater. Petitioners need 25% of the turnout from the last municipal elections in 90 days, which seems to be 681. 

A recall vote would be in May/June if verified.There would be a temporary appointment to fill hte seats, with an election in November (the terms expire in 2025). 

Petitioners have also turned in a resolution demanding that the amphitheater decision be put to a vote. In that case, they turned in more than 1100 signatures, with 952 verified. 

The article discusses the 2009 recall effort against Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, which was tossed out by the Ohio Supreme Court because of a missing sentence in the petitions.

Michigan: Petitioners appeal judge's ruling rejecting recall effort against Lakeshore Public School Board

Petitioners are appealing a Judge decision to uphold a clerk's ruling that they did not get enough signatures to force a recall against Berrien County' Lakeshore Public School Board President Jason Beckrow and Secretary Rachel Wade.

The recalls were part of a large group of efforts against Berrien County officials, all over board members support for mask policies designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Petitioners needed 2156 valids for each. They handed in 2388 for Becrow and got 2052 valids and 2400 for Wade, with only 2019 found valids. Numerous people signed the wrong petition form (not the municipality that they are registered to vote in) and some of the addresses were filled out by someone else.

Colorado: Walsenburg Mayor and Councilmembers up for May 16 vote

Walsenburg Councilmembers Mayor Charles Bryant and Councilmembers Veronica Maes, Nick Vigil and Carmen Lara are facing recall votes on May 16. 

Councilmember Greg Daniels made the ballot as well, but resigned. 

An earlier effort against Bryant and two other council members, Ricky Jennings and Don Martinez, failed to make the ballot. Bryant is protesting the recall. 

The issue seems to be an internal battle in the government and the mayor has encouraged the recall effort against what he calls a "culture of corruption" saying they need a "hard reset." Apparently, the mayor and  Jennings (who is mayor pro tem) are on one side of the aisle. 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Mississippi: Does the state actually have a recall law? An examination

I wrote this op-ed in the Magnolia Tribune on Mississippi's quasi-recall law, which is somewhat similar to Virginia's Recall Trial law. I would call this a recall, though so limited that it probably has never been used. Here's the key points:

Mississippi is arguably one of these states that possess a recall law. The Magnolia State currently has a law that allows for a quasi-recall against county officials, though there is disagreement as to whether it counts as a recall law, with students of the recall generally ignoring the state in their listing.

Under this provision, voters can petition the governor to remove a county official. The governor then appoints three chancery judges to decide if the official should be removed for “failing, neglecting or refusing to perform any of the duties required…” If the judges find against the official, a special election is held, and an absolute majority of the qualified voters in the district need to vote in favor of removal for the official to be kicked out of office. The governor then appoints a temporary replacement, and another special election is held within 60 days to fill the slot.

This law is extremely restrictive, arguably more so than any other recall law in the country. The amount of signatures needed, 30% of registered voters, is very high (though Louisiana had a higher number – 33 1/3% for some officials, though they lowered it for state-level ones). Most jurisdictions use numbers closer to 25% of voter turnout in the last election, a naturally much lower figure. Requiring an absolute majority of qualified voters to cast ballots voting in favor of kicking out the official is not a provision that usually exists in the US, though other countries have a similar “absentee veto” type of requirement. Idaho’s law requires the vote in favor of removal to top the total amount of votes that the official received in the original winning is rare, but again that is quite likely a smaller number than Mississippi requires.

The oddest feature is somewhat similar to other states. Seven states have a malfeasance standard or judicial recall law, which requires that the official violated a statutorily delineated set of laws in order to be eligible for removal. In those states, a judge or election official rules on whether such a violation has occurred. Mississippi’s law, which doesn’t specify a violation of a law or showing of incompetence but rather an amorphous refusal to perform the duties of office, is at once more and less restrictive than other states. It is frankly not clear how it works in practice.

Maryland: Group pushing for expansion of recall in Baltimore

 Unfortunately, I can't open this article, but it is about expanding the recall in Baltimore

California: Documentary out on Santa Clara Judge Recall

Looks like there is an MSNBC documentary (The Recall: Reframed) coming out on March 19 on the recall of Santa Clara Judge Aaron Persky, with a focus on how whether it increased punitive punishment.

Colorado: Petitions approved against two Dacono Councilmembers

Petitions have been approved against Dacono Councilmembers Jim Turini and Jackie Thomas over their votes to remove the city manager. Two other councilmembers are not facing a recall effort. Kathryn Wittman is facing reelection in November and Danny Long is still in the six-month grace period. 

Petitioners need about 200 signatures.

Michigan: Petition language approved against Otisco Township Supervisor and Treasurer

Petition language has been approved (though "reluctantly") for the recall of Otisco Township Supervisor Desmond Pike and Treasurer Paula Byrne over complaints about spending and passing the same budget as the last year (as well as complaints about office hours and other issues). Previously petition language had been rejected. 

Petitions are also being taken out against Clerk Lynda Sower. 

Former township treasurer Cara Johnson, who lost to Byrne in the 2020 Primary, filed the petitions. All three are Republicans. Petitioners need 260 signatures.

Update: The petition against Sower has been withdrawn.

Washington: Death threats reported in Richland School Board recall effort

Death threats have been reported against the petitioner in the recall effort against three Richland School Board members Semi Bird, Audra Byrd and Kari Williams, over their vote to make mask mandates optional, which allegedly violates a state law that mandated masks to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Washington State Supreme Court has approved the recall effort, which because Washington is a malfeasance standard/judicial recall state, needed a showing of a violation of state law. Petitioners would need at least 5000 signatures each. 

Texas: County Commissioners Court Board Throws out Tarrant County Appraisal District Board Chair

Not the traditional recall here (as voters are not casting the ballot, but another elected body is making the decision), but worth noting: Tarrant County Commissioners Court recalled and removed Appraisal District Board Chair Kathryn Wilemon, who had already resigned last week after the Keller City Council voted in favor of a recall. Wilemon was accused of locking residents out of board meetings; sending complaints of a local tax consultant and conflict of interests.

Michigan: Keene Township Supervisor and Treasurer on the May 2nd recall ballot

Keene Township Supervisor Robert Simpson (R) and Treasurer Kara Albert (R) are facing a May 2nd election day recall vote over a proposed solar energy project being zoned. 

This is the second effort against them. Petitions were filed last year against Simpson, Albert and Trustees Harvey Noon and Corey Wojcik, but they did not make the ballot. Noon has since resigned. inate candidates for either position by that same deadline.

Simpson has been in office for 14 years. 

Louisiana: Judge in New Orleans Mayoral Recall signed recall petitions

A new twist in the recall effort against New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Petitioners finally turned over the signatures to media outlets (though under Louisiana law they will not be made public). There are now reports that Judge Jennifer Medley, who approved the deal that lowered the signature threshold by 5000, is one of the signers of the petitions. 

Note that we saw something like this in Wisconsin in 2012, though that judge was not ruling on the recall itself but on a controversial voter ID law. There seems to be no law against this, nor any real ethical questions, as this article notes that the judge has the same political rights as other citizens, even if it doesn't appear to be a good look.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Michigan: Petitions language approved against two Pere Marquette officials

Petition language has been approved against Pere Marquette Township Supervisor Jerry Bleau (R) (though one of three were rejected on factualness grounds. Petitions were previously approved against Treasurer Karie Bleau (R) over complaints about lack of leadership, difficulty with employees and accounting practices. Jerry Bleau said that he believes the issue was clean-up of blight at a Recycling factory. The Bleaus are married. 

Petitioners would need 343 signatures to get on the ballot.

North Dakota: Grand Forks City Council President facing petitions

Grand Forks City Council President Dana Sande is facing a recall effort, seemingly over the effort to bring a corn mill to the town (plan was killed after the Air Force called in a national security threat, due to the fact that it was owned by a China-based company and near an air force base). Petitioners need 1318 signatures by May 25. 

Petitioner Kevin Wilson is planning on running for the seat. He seems to have moved into town in June.

It seems like the last recall in the city was against Councilmember John Hoff in 2000.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Louisiana: Newest twist in New Orleans Mayor Recall as SoS agrees to strike names from rolls just for recall counting purposes

Lots and lots going on in the fascinating New Orleans LaToya Cantrell recall effort. After filing a lawsuit looking to remove voters from the rolls in order to lower the amount of signatures needed to get on the recall on the ballot, petitioners and the Secretary of State (though not the Registrar) have come to a deal that will not actually remove anyone from the rolls, but will (phantom-runner style) strike 25000 names just for the purpose of the recall, thereby lowering the number of signatures needed by 5000. There seems to be no particular reason for that number (petitioners were asking over 30K. No word yet on whether Cantrell will appeal (she is exploring all options), though if she doesn't, probably time for some new lawyers.

 Note this attorney pointing out that the Secretary of State needed to set the number in August. Here's the Secretary of State blaming the Governor on what is a national issue over complaints about voter rolls (and its use in voter suppression efforts). 

Cantrell herself has gotten into a bit of pr mess, as she discussed "flipping the bird" at a parade, though let's see what happens. 

Here's a Q&A I did on the recall with WDSU