The Washington Post

Number of recalls down in 2013


Colorado state Sen. John Morse (D) was one of the unlucky few who was recalled in 2013 (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Using a recall against an elected official was once a rare tactic, a move reserved for the most corrupt officials. But now, with partisan tensions seemingly at all-time highs, the recall is becoming a more overt political tool, used more over ideological issues than over competence or ethics.

The numbers bear that out: There were at least 478 attempted recalls in 2013, 107 of which made it to the ballot. The high-profile ousters of two Colorado state Senate Democrats, and the resignation of a third, got the most attention, but officials in 19 other states lost their jobs.

That’s according to a count maintained by Joshua Spivak, author of the Recall Elections Blog, who has kept detailed track of recall efforts over the past several years. And according to Spivak, the number of recalls are actually down. There were 151 recalls that made the ballot in 2011, and 168 in 2012.

California had more recalls than any other state, with Maine coming in second place. But judges rejected 19 potential recalls, while administrative officers nixed another seven, according to Spivak’s data.

One of the reasons for a lower number of recalls is that Michigan, a state that once led the nation in recalls, changed its laws. Elected officials are no longer subject to recalls unless they have served a full year in office, and all recalls are subject to factual tests. The bottom line: While Michigan had 56 recalls between 2011 and 2012, only 13 officials faced recalls in 2013.

Several officials who faced a recall vote came under fire for policy reasons. The three Colorado state senators lost their jobs over their support for gun control legislation, and gun rights supporters have targeted officials in Maine and Idaho — and potentially three Western states — over gun control laws.

But you don’t have to hold partisan office to be recalled; in St. Tammany Parish, La., Coroner Peter Galvan resigned after being indicted on federal theft charges. His constituents had begun the process to oust him from office by collecting the 54,000 necessary signatures.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Democrats debate Thursday. Get caught up on the race.
What to expect tonight
Tonight's debate is likely to focus on the concerns of African American and Latino voters. Clinton has focused in recent days on issues like gun control, criminal-sentencing reform, and the state of drinking water in Flint, Mich. Sanders has been aggressively moving to appeal to the same voters, combining his core message about economic unfairness with his own calls to reform the criminal-justice system.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.