Vote

Employees asked for it, and someone might take up the charge to get a recall of Mayor Garry Baldwin on the ballot.

But what is a recall, anyhow?

It is a ballot measure that applies to every state, county and municipal public official who holds elected office – for example, a mayor, council member, commissioner, state representative, state senator, and all the way up to governor.

Anyone who is on a ballot one time and is voted into office by the people of a city, county or state, they can elect to remove them as well.

It’s not as easy as just going up to the Board of Elections and asking for a ballot measure, however.

First, according to information provided by Elections Director Lee Ann George that she was able to obtain from the Secretary of State’s office, only citizens who are registered and qualified to vote, and reside in the electoral district can even ask for the paperwork to get the process started.

First an application is required, that must be sponsored by at least 10 other people with their signatures and information on where they reside, and follow certain rules.

Plus, a recall is only valid if it meets the following conditions: an elected official has to have committed acts of malfeasance, essentially wrongdoing; violated their oath of office, committed misconduct of some kind, guilty of a failure to perform duties prescribed by law or willfully misused, converted, misappropriated without the proper authority any property or funds owned by the public and entrusted in their care.

Applicants must list facts, and provide a chairperson of a committee who is organizing the recall.

Then once the application is processed and approved, a petition is spread through the community and signatures are gathered.

There has to be at least one application, and notification is given to a public official being recalled.

All applications must have at least 100 sponsor signatures to be valid, or in most cases at least a number of sponsors equal to 10 percent of the voters registered in the previous election held for the public official being recalled.

That has to be done within 15 days of issuance, and then is submitted for verification to George’s office.

Signatures can be withdrawn at any time before being submitted on an application, but once the paperwork is turned into the elections office locally or on the state level they are sealed in ink.

Notifications are again given to the official being recalled that the application is being verified, and that process lasts another five days for all the signatures to be validated. It can be extended as much as 15 days by a Superior Court Judge if necessary.

An official can seek to appeal to the court to have the recall brought back, and invalidate the application if grounds are found to do so.

In municipal elections, at least 30 percent of the voters who were eligible and registered in the last election are required to sign a petition once an application is verified, and the next step takes place.

There are additional rules on where petitions can be circulated, and signatures must be made in the presence of someone who is seeking the recall vote. Also, voters who change their mind before the petition is filed with the Board of Elections on a local or state level can withdraw at any time.

State officials have also have different thresholds on the amount of signatures needed to petition to have a recall vote on the ballot, with 15 percent needed for full statewide positions, and 30 percent for more localized state positions, like a state representative or state senator.

Locally, voters would have 30 days to sign a petition, and 90 days for a statewide petition. The state gives petitioners 45 days to complete getting signatures if more than 5,000 are required.

Then, the elections superintendent has 30 days to verify the petition, or 45 if more than one is submitted. A whole round of rules and regulations about how verification works is then completed, and then finally a recall vote can be called by a municipal officer, the election superintendent or the municipality itself. Or the Governor in the case of a state official, and only the election superintendent can call for a recall vote on the ballot in cases where county officials are involved.

Recalls require more than 50 percent of voters to agree before results allow for an official to be removed immediately from office. Then a special election would have to be called, and both of those ballot measures would be conducted by the Board of Elections.

Additionally, someone recalled can run to fill the office again.

If they resign before the recall vote is carried out, it is removed from the ballot and the Board of Elections moves to begin the process of a special election to fill the seat.

So that’s how it works in a nutshell. Want more information? Call George at 770-749-2103 to find out.

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