- AQA, Edexcel, OCR
Last updated 22 Mar 2021
A recall election is a special election that is designed to remove an elected official part way through their term, outside of the traditional electoral cycle.
Recall elections exist in many US States for almost every kind of elected role. The only exceptions to this are Members of Congress (both Senators and Representatives), the Vice President and President. The power of recall was proposed for inclusion in the Constitution, but it was rejected.
In order to initiate a recall election, voters must normally lodge a petition that gains a certain proportion of the electorate, within a time constraint and have a reason for recall. A recall request can be challenged by the incumbent in a court. Rules regarding recall elections vary between states.
In 2003, incumbent California Governor, Gray Davis, was the subject of a recall election over the state budget and the California Electricity Crisis. The petition for recall required 1.2 million signatures. Republicans in California ramped up the pressure and managed to obtain 1.6 million signatures. Due to Californian electoral law over 130 candidates put themselves forward for election to be Governor. On election day, Davis was ejected and film star Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected for the Republicans. This makes Davis one of only two Governors to be successfully recalled.
In 2012, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker became the first Governor to survive a recall.
The next recall election in the US will take place in December after a petition was lodged against East Cleveland city councilmen Thomas Wheeler.