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Americans Deserve Recall Power

By       Message Joel S. Hirschhorn     Permalink
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Nothing is more powerful in a democracy than fed up citizens lawfully yanking public officials out of their jobs. Considering all the frustration and anger about government that is too big, expensive, corrupt and dysfunctional, it is wise to consider how much better American democracy would be if citizens could recall members of Congress, the President and even Supreme Court Justices. In a world moving at faster and faster speeds why wait for the usual ways to fix government, especially when none of them seem to work?

Fearful politicians have given citizens in relatively few states and local governments the right to recall government officials. A most memorable and recent recall was the governor of California, Gray Davis, in 2003.

Direct voting to recall government officials is a prime example of direct democracy. The action may be called a recall election or a recall referendum. It is needed when representative democracy fails the public. Which most Americans definitely think is the case for Congress.

Only eighteen states allow recall of state officials. Specific grounds for recall are required in only eight states. Eleven states allow recall of judicial officials. Inat least 29states (some sources place this number at 36), recall elections may be held in local jurisdictions. Three-fourths of recall actions in the US are at the city council or school board level.

Here are some other recent successful recalls.

1983 recall efforts of two Michigan state senators

1988 recall of Oregon state legislator

1995 recall of two California Assembly members

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2002 recall of mayor of Flint, Michigan.

2002 recall of multiple Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, elected county officials

2003 recall of Wisconsin State Senator

2005 recall of mayor of Spokane, Washington.

2006 recall of mayor of Roosevelt, New Jersey

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In 1988, Arizona voters filed enough signatures to trigger a recall election for Governor Evan Mecham, but he was impeached by the state's House of Representatives before the date of the scheduled recall election.

In some places the successor to a recalled official is elected at the same time, others in a special election afterwards and in others by appointment.

Right now there is no way to recall federal officials. Don't you think it is time to change this? If you do, then understand that there must be a constitutional amendment and clearly Congress will never propose such an amendment.

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Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. His current political writings have been greatly influenced by working as a senior staffer for the U.S. Congress and for the (more...)
 

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