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Recall

Recall

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Recall is an electoral procedure that allows citizens to vote on whether or not a public official should be removed from office. It is distinct from an impeachment, which involves a formal trial. A recall is simply a special election open to all voters in the area represented by the official in question. Similar types of procedures date back to ancient Athens, where politicians could be banished from the city by a vote of the citizens. The idea of citizens taking the initiative to remove public officials exists in many but by no means all local, state, and national jurisdictions. Depending on the political unit, the recall may apply to administrators, executives, judges, or legislators. Moreover the grounds for recall, such as incompetence, malfeasance, neglect, and so on, may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In many cases no rationale is even necessary.

All recall procedures are typically initiated by a petition. The required number of signatories may be a percentage of citizens in the political unit or of voters in a preceding election. If the appropriate number of signatories is secured, then the official is recalled and an election is scheduled. There are at least four types of recall elections. In one type, a special election requires that the incumbent run in an election against all other contenders, with the winner assuming office. In another, a simultaneous recall and replacement election decides the fate of the incumbent separately but simultaneously with the choice of a successor. Voters cast ballots on the worthiness of the incumbent and the preferred replacement candidate. If the incumbent loses the recall, then the winner of the replacement election takes office. If the incumbent wins, then the outcome of the replacement election is moot. In a third type, a sequential recall and replacement election first decides the fate of the incumbent. Given that the incumbent is successfully recalled, then a replacement election is scheduled at a later date, with the vacant office filled by the winner. Finally, in the fourth type, a sequential recall and appointment procedure begins with a recall election. If the incumbent is voted out of office, then he or she is replaced by an appointee selected according to some constitutional provision.

In the early twenty-first century eighteen U.S. states allowed for the recall of public officials on the state level, and thirty-six states permitted the recall in local jurisdictions. The best-known contemporary example of this procedure is the 2003 recall of California governor Gray Davis. The governor was recalled in large part because of the states economic downturn and large budget deficit. In a contentious race, Davis lost the recall election and the Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger won the simultaneous replacement election. The event attracted much public attention because of Schwarzeneggers celebrity, but it was also notable because state recall elections are rare and there had only been one other successful recall of a governor. In contrast, recalls at the local levels of government are used much more often.

Because the recall gives citizens the power to remove public officials before their terms expire, it serves the aims of direct democracy within a representative political system. It is consistent with an understanding of representatives as delegates for their constituents, as opposed to trustees. Proponents of the recall procedure contend that it advances democracy by increasing the accountability of public officials, giving them a reason to remain responsive to the general public. It also offers citizens the opportunity to more quickly remove incompetent, irresponsible, or unethical officials from office, instead of waiting for the end of their terms.

Opponents of recall procedures cite at least two basic problems. First, the recall is contrary to the principles of republican government because it undermines the independence of public officials. It encourages public officials to cater to the desires of citizens at the expense of the community, and it gives them an incentive to promote the satisfaction of short-term interests over long-term benefits. Second, recall elections are disruptive and costly. Recalled officials usually devote time to winning their elections so they can remain in office. More time spent campaigning means less time spent on serving the public. The recall is also expensive because it requires the government to conduct unscheduled elections.

When used judiciously, the recall can be an important tool for citizens to protect the integrity of their political systems. However, it can also be a destructive weapon when abused by an impetuous constituency or an opportunistic demagogue. Consequently, whether or not the recall is a good idea may depend on ones confidence, or lack thereof, in the intelligence and savvy of the electorate.

SEE ALSO Accountability

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cronin, Thomas E. 1989. Direct Democracy: The Politics of Initiative, Referendum, and Recall. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Zimmerman, Joseph. 1997. The Recall: Tribunal of the People. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Johnny Goldfinger

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Recall

RECALL

RECALL. A state and local constitutional provision allowing for the removal of public officials by the voters. Fifteen states, mostly western, include recall for state-level officers, and many more allow for the removal of local officials. Recall is most often grouped with the initiative and the referendum; taken together, the three measures formed a cornerstone of the Progressive-Erareforms aimed at promoting "direct democracy." The first state to adopt the recall was Oregon in 1908 (it had earlier adopted the initiative and referendum), although the 1903 Los Angeles city charter actually marked the first instance of its inclusion in a community's body of fundamental law. Recall usually applies to administrative (executive branch) officials, although it has occasionally been applied to judicial officers as well. Along with the other measures, the demand for recall arose in response to the feeling among Progressive reformers that officials, because they were beholden to the party machines and special interests, paid little heed to the public welfare once elected or appointed.

In contrast to impeachment proceedings, which allow for the removal of elected and appointed officials accused of high crimes and misdemeanors by a tribunal of their legislative peers, recall invests the power of removal directly with the voters. The procedure calls for the presentation of a petition signed by a stipulated number of registered voters (usually 25 percent of those participating in the last election) requesting the official's removal. No indictable criminal or civil charges need be brought against the official in order for the petition to be valid. After judicial review to ensure the petition's authenticity and procedural conformance, a recall election is scheduled and the voters decide either to remove or to retain the official. While simple in theory, the process is actually cumbersome since the petition requires voter mobilization, and its submittal inevitably prompts legal challenges by those opposed.

Since its inception nearly a century ago, recall has been used infrequently and most often without success. Of the three measures, it has proven the least popular. The majority of attempts have involved local officials. Notable cases in the last thirty years of the twentieth century include unsuccessful efforts to remove Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, Cleveland Mayor Dennis Kucinich, and San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein. At the time of its adoption in the early twentieth century the issue of recall was hotly debated, with those opposed to the measure arguing that, along with the initiative and referendum, it undercut representative government and would lead to mob rule. Even supporters such as Theodore Roosevelt admitted the procedure opened up "undoubted possibilities for mischief," and, especially in the case of judges, should only be used as a last resort.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cronin, Thomas E. Direct Democracy: The Politics of Initiative, Referendum, and Recall. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989.

Zimmerman, Joseph F. The Recall: Tribunal of the People. West-port, Conn.: Praeger, 1997.

C. WyattEvans

See alsoProgressive Movement .

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recall

re·call • v. / riˈkôl/ [tr.] 1. bring (a fact, event, or situation) back into one's mind, esp. so as to recount it to others; remember: I can still vaguely recall being taken to the hospital | [with direct speech] “He was awfully fond of teasing people,” she recalled | he recalled how he felt at the time. ∎  cause one to remember or think of: the film's analysis of contemporary concerns recalls The Big Chill. ∎  (recall someone/something to) bring the memory or thought of someone or something to (a person or their mind): the smell of a black-currant bush has ever since recalled to me that evening. ∎  call up (stored computer data) for processing or display. 2. officially order (someone) to return to a place: the Panamanian ambassador was recalled from Peru. ∎  select (a sports player) as a member of a team from which they have previously been dropped: the Fulham defender has been recalled to the Welsh squad for the World Cup. ∎  (of a manufacturer) request all the purchasers of (a certain product) to return it, as the result of the discovery of a fault. ∎  bring (someone) out of a state of inattention or reverie: her action recalled him to the present. ∎ archaic revoke or annul (an action or decision). • n. / ˈrēˌkôl; riˈkôl; rēˈkôl/ 1. an act or instance of officially recalling someone or something: a recall of Parliament. ∎  a request for the return of a faulty product, issued by a manufacturer to all those who have purchased it. ∎  the removal of an elected government official from office by a petition followed by voting. 2. the action or faculty of remembering something learned or experienced: he has amazing recall people's understanding and subsequent recall of stories or events. ∎  the proportion of the number of relevant documents retrieved from a database in response to an inquiry. PHRASES: beyond recall in such a way that restoration is impossible: shopping developments have already blighted other parts of the city beyond recall.DERIVATIVES: re·call·a·ble adj.

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Recall

RECALL

The right or procedure by which a public official may be removed from a position by a vote of the people prior to the end of the term of office.

Recall is the retiring of an elected officer by a vote of the electorate. Some state constitutions prescribe the procedure that must be followed in a recall—for example, requiring the filing of a petition containing the signatures of a specific number of qualified voters.

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recall

recall (ri-kawl)
1. n. the process of eliciting a representation (especially an image) of a past experience.

2. vb. to elicit such a representation.

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recall

recall call back; revoke. XVI. f. RE- + CALL.
Hence sb. XVII.

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recall

recall •landfall • pratfall • deadfall •rainfall • windfall • pitfall • icefall •nightfall • rockfall • shortfall •downfall • outfall • snowfall • dewfall •footfall • waterfall • overfall •keelhaul • guildhall • Whitehall •shorthaul • overhaul • catcall • recall •Rockall • rollcall • photocall • overcall •Bokmål • pub crawl • overall •coverall • Walsall • tattersall •headstall • bookstall • fingerstall •therewithal, wherewithal •gadwall • whitewall • Cornwall •firewall • caterwaul • Kirkwall

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