California

Eligible for Recall: Only state and local officials

Signature Requirement: 12% of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled

Circulation Time: 160 days

Type of Recall Election: Recall Election held simultaneously with election for successor

Constitutional Provision: Article II Sections 13-20, California Elections Code Division 11

SEC. 14.

  • Recall of a state officer is initiated by delivering to the Secretary of State a petition alleging reason for recall. Sufficiency of reason is not reviewable. Proponents have 160 days to file signed petitions.
  • A petition to recall a statewide officer must be signed by electors equal in number to 12 percent of the last vote for the office, with signatures from each of 5 counties equal in number to 1 percent of the last vote for the office in the county. Signatures to recall Senators, members of the Assembly, members of the Board of Equalization, and judges of courts of appeal and trial courts must equal in number 20 percent of the last vote for the office.
  • The Secretary of State shall maintain a continuous count of the signatures certified to that office.

SEC. 15.

  • An election to determine whether to recall an officer and, if appropriate, to elect a successor shall be called by the Governor and held not less than 60 days nor more than 80 days from the date of certification of sufficient signatures.
  • A recall election may be conducted within 180 days from the date of certification of sufficient signatures in order that the election may be consolidated with the next regularly scheduled election occurring wholly or partially within the same jurisdiction in which the recall election is held, if the number of voters eligible to vote at that next regularly scheduled election equal at least 50 percent of all the voters eligible to vote at the recall election.
  • If the majority vote on the question is to recall, the officer is removed and, if there is a candidate, the candidate who receives a plurality is the successor. The officer may not be a candidate, nor shall there be any candidacy for an office filled pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 16 of Article VI.

SEC. 16. The Legislature shall provide for circulation, filing, and certification of petitions, nomination of candidates, and the recall election.

SEC. 17. If recall of the Governor or Secretary of State is initiated, the recall duties of that office shall be performed by the Lieutenant Governor or Controller, respectively.

SEC. 18. A state officer who is not recalled shall be reimbursed by the State for the officer’s recall election expenses legally and personally incurred. Another recall may not be initiated against the officer until six months after the election.

SEC. 19. The Legislature shall provide for recall of local officers. This section does not affect counties and cities whose charters provide for recall.

SEC. 20. Terms of elective offices provided for by this Constitution, other than Members of the Legislature, commence on the Monday after January 1 following election. The election shall be held in the last even-numbered year before the term expires.

Initial Procedure: Submit petitions to the Secretary of State for approval

Contact Info:
California Secretary of State
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 653-6814

Court Activity

Could Judge in Stanford Rape Case Be Recalled?

News & Commentary

California Democrats Use Budget Bill to Change Recall Rules, Help Colleague | 06/19/17

SACRAMENTO  (Mercury News)-- Over impassioned objections from GOP lawmakers, California Democrats on June 15 used a budget maneuver to help out a freshman colleague, Sen. Josh Newman, who faces an ugly recall battle in Southern California after voting for increasing the state's gas tax less than six months after he was elected.

Slipped into a budget-related bill on a veteran's cemetery was a provision to add new requirements for qualifying a recall petition for the ballot. Such changes would almost certainly delay a Newman recall to a general election.

General elections typically have better turnouts than special elections and favor Democrats.
Republicans are furious about the move, which bypasses the lengthy process through which policy bills are typically vetted. That it appeared in a bill establishing a new location of a new Southern California veteran's cemetery made it more offensive to opponents.

"It's just flat out wrong," said Assemblyman Devon Mathis, a Republican from Visalia, in an interview. "I'm a combat veteran, and I didn't get blown up twice in Iraq to come home and see this happen."

Read more.

Local California District Board Member Survives Recall | 04/26/17

Linda Santos breathed a long and thankful sigh of relief late Tuesday when results of a recall attempt indicated she will keep keep her seat on the Oakdale Irrigation District board.

According to incomplete returns, "no" votes against the recall came to nearly 56 percent. If the trend holds as remaining ballots are counted in coming days, the balance of power on the deeply divided OID board soon could be thrown into doubt.

The other half of Tuesday's ballot - choosing Santos' successor - became moot in her apparent victory. If she had been recalled, Nate Ludlow - the only candidate to sign up - would have taken her spot.

Because Ludlow is aligned with the current board majority, his ascension would have assured that the old guard stays in power even after Gary Osmundson gives up his seat when he changes homes in a few weeks.

Instead, Santos' win on Tuesday is expected to neutralize the board's power struggle, as she and political ally Gail Altieri will be able to match votes with Steve Webb and Herman Doornenbal once Osmundson moves out of Division 5, forcing him to give up his seat. The power stalemate is likely to continue until the November ballot, when Osmundson's successor will be chosen; Webb and Doornenbal also are up then for re-election.

Read more. 

Citing Cost, Group Trying to Recall Judge in Sex Assault Case Postpones Campaign | 03/22/17

PALO ALTO, Calif. (March 21, 2017) -- The group working to unseat Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky for alleged judicial bias has decided to delay placing a recall on the ballot until next summer given the cost of mounting a special election this November.

Palo Alto resident Michele Dauber, chair of the Recall Persky campaign and Stanford University law professor, said she "immediately" decided to postpone the campaign to June 2018 after learning recently about the difference in cost.

Dauber said she believes that the new election date, while not the campaign's first choice, will not affect the outcome of the recall. She launched the recall movement last summer amid widespread furor over Persky's six-month sentencing of former Stanford student Brock Turner for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters estimates it would cost taxpayers about $6.9 million to hold a special recall election this fall, compared to $576,075 next summer.

The discrepancy in cost is because there are no other items slated for the November 2017 ballot, according to the Registrar, while there are at least three other countywide races scheduled for next June (for district attorney, sheriff and assessor).

Read more.


Water Board Members Likely Recalled over Price Hike During Drought | 11/09/16

YORBA LINDA, CALIF. -- Water board members in an Orange County suburb who backed a water rate hike in the midst of intense drought appeared to be defeated in a recall election.

With all precincts reporting, all three incumbents seeking to stay on the five-member Yorba Linda Water District board were losing. About 71% of voters voted to recall two board members, Gary Melton and Robert Kiley.

And the board's president, Ric Collett, appeared to be losing his bid for reelection, coming in last place in a field of four candidates in which,only the top two finishers would secure a new term on the board.

The Yorba Linda Water District's board attracted the ire of the Yorba Linda Taxpayers Assn. when the district unanimously raised bills by $25 a month. The battle has transformed the sleepy suburb into a cautionary case study for other California water suppliers coping with a decrease in water sales during drought.

Read more.

Recall Effort Underway against Oakland Mayor | 09/21/16

OAKLAND, Calif. -- An aggressive campaign has begun to recall Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

The group says Schaaf has been too closely tied with the troubled police department since her first day in office.

KRON4's Spencer Blake was at Oakland City Hall, where the recall signatures started coming in Sunday.

It was certainly a small turnout at city hall, but the Anti Police-Terror Project is just beginning its effort to get a special recall election set up for early next year.

Meanwhile, Mayor Schaaf is defending her record.

Read more.

Recall of California Supervisor Will Be on November Ballot | 07/28/16

Calaveras County Clerk Recorder Rebecca Turner on July 27 formally ordered that a recall election for District 5 Supervisor Steve Kearney will be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Turner was forced to take the action after the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors on July 12 declined to certify that sufficient signatures had been gathered to call the election.

By state law, the Board of Supervisors had 14 days after the July 12 meeting to issue an order to approve the recall election. No order came, so Turner followed state rules that require her to act as the county registrar of voters and set the recall election.

Petitioners earlier cited as reasons for the recall Kerney's votes to allow a controversial asphalt plant to operate without a conditional use permit and environmental studies and to allow a developer to back out of an agreement to pay for a left turn lane on Olive Orchard Road at Highway 26.

Kearney said in an emailed media release that he believes those responsible are part of a small group of "elites" and that the group is guilty of "inflicting economic terrorism" on Calaveras County.

Read more.

Anti-Police Group Wants to Recall Oakland Mayor | 07/13/16

OAKLAND, California -- A group of activists walked into the city clerk's office to file a petition to recall Mayor Libby Schaaf on July 11, but quickly discovered they will have to return with 24 more signatures before beginning the process toward a potential recall election.

The Anti-Police Terror Project cited a slew of grievances -- such as the ongoing sexual exploitation scandal in the Oakland Police Department, the displacement of longtime residents and violent crime -- when they announced they intended to circulate a petition to recall the city's mayor. The group plans to return Tuesday with the signatures needed to file a petition.

"The people in the hills are happy, the developers are happy, but the people-people -- the black and brown and the poor people that are the heart and soul of this city -- are sick and tired of being sick and tired," activist Cat Brooks said in an interview with ABC7 News.

The group needs to collect more than 20,000 signatures -- 10 percent of the city's electorate -- to put a recall election on the ballot.

The same group of activists previously demanded for Oakland police to be defunded amid recent scandals.

Read more.

Could Judge in Stanford Rape Case Be Recalled? | 06/14/16

The case of Brock Turner, a former Stanford University student convicted of sexual assault, has gained national attention amid an outcry over the six-month sentence he received. More than a million people have signed recall petitions for Judge Aaron Persky, who issued the sentence.

After Turner's conviction in March, prosecutors requested six years in prison. Instead, Judge Persky decided to sentence Turner to six months in county jail and a requirement to register as a sex offender, in line with the probation officers' recommendations, The San Jose Mercury News reported.

The sentence fell below the "mandatory minimum" for the crime, which Persky attributed to Turner's youth, his intoxicated state, and his lack of criminal record. Following the survivor's testimony going viral, the public's response to the sentencing has been unprecedented, as The Christian Science Monitor reported.

Peter Lake, a professor at Stetson University College of Law and a Title IX expert, told The Monitor that "public attitudes about appropriate punishment often drives change".

One change many are calling for is the removal of Persky from the bench. There are two efforts to remove him, one focusing on a recall election and the other demanding his removal by the California Commission on Judicial Performance. Those demanding his removal by the judicial commission, which has not commented on the issue, delivered the petition with a million signatures at a rally on Friday.

Michele Dauber, the Stanford law professor who is part of the recall effort, told NPR that Persky's lenient sentencing due to Turner's drunkenness, academic accomplishments, and athletic success prior to the sentencing endangered college-aged women.

"That that description fits essentially every campus rape at Stanford certainly and many schools across the country," Dauber told NPR. "So it means that he has essentially taken campus rape out of the category of things you can go to prison for, and awarded it a lighter sentence."

Dr. Dauber is working with Progressive Women Silicon Valley on the recall election, and told NPR an official signature gathering effort for a recall vote would begin shortly. To reach the ballot, the petition would need the signature of 60,000 Santa Clara County voters, the Mercury News reported. If he is defeated, another candidate will be selected to replace Persky, who began a new six-year term last week after being reelected with no opponent.

Read more.

Signatures Submitted for California City Council Recall Election | 04/25/16

LAKE FOREST - Organizers of the recall campaign to oust three of the five City Council members submitted more signatures than required to the city, just before the deadline Wednesday.

Leah Basile and her team of volunteers turned in 8,245 signatures requesting the recall of Mayor Andrew Hamilton, 8,238 for Councilman Dwight Robinson and 8,183 for Mayor Pro Tem Scott Voigts, city spokeswoman Hannah Shin-Heydorn said.

City staff counted the signatures Wednesday night to make sure they exceeded the minimum 7,882 per official being recalled, Shin-Heydorn said.

The city will deliver the petitions Thursday to the Orange County Registrar of Voters to get the signatures verified, she said.

Recall supporters, who accuse Voigts, Hamilton and Robinson of corruption and cronyism, have been gathering signatures in store parking lots, at community events and going door-to-door since December.

"It was almost like four months of struggle and hard work all paid off," Basile, a Portola Hills resident who's spearheading the recall, said Thursday. "Many of the people we talked to were not happy with the direction the city's headed, so it was not difficult to get them to sign."

The three council members being targeted for recall deny the allegations, saying the effort is an overreaction based on misleading information, and is being promoted by rival councilmen Jim Gardner and Adam Nick.

Read more.

Three School Board Members Ousted in California City Recall Election | 04/13/16

Three out of four Raisin City Elementary School District board members facing recall, including the board president, were ousted in a special election Tuesday. In addition, a vacant seat was filled on the Golden Plains Unified School District board.

Raisin City trustee Evangelina Urias survived a recall attempt, with about 55 percent of those marking ballots voting "no."

The recalled trustees are board president Anthony Monreal, Nancy Schwabenland and Federico Garcia.

Read more in the Fresno Bee.


Voters Use Recall Drives to Oust Scores of Officials in 2015 | 12/30/15

More than 100 state and local officials faced recall elections in 2015 and a majority were ousted from their jobs, as unhappy voters vented their frustrations on issues ranging from charter schools to gun rights.

In all, there were more than 400 recall drives, with 108 actually going to voters and 65 officials being tossed from their jobs, according to a tally from Joshua Spivak, who writes the Recall Elections Blog.

Fifteen other officeholders resigned, while just 28 survived the recall vote, according to Mr. Spivak.

The 108 recalls were down from 126 in 2014. There were 107 in 2013, 168 in 2012, and 151 in 2011.

Recalls have become major political news in recent years after Californians voted in 2003 to kick Democratic Gov. Gray Davis out of office and replace him with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Read more.

California School District Slates Recall for Board Member | 10/07/15

LUCERNE VALLEY -- On Feb. 2, residents of the Lucerne Valley Unified School District will get their chance to recall school board member Dawn Turnbull, although fellow board members say she hasn't been a board member in months.

On Sept. 18, San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Michael J. Scarpello certified that recall proponents had gathered enough valid signatures to put a recall of Turnbull up to a vote in an upcoming special election.

On Oct. 5, the other four Lucerne Valley Unified board members picked a date: Feb. 2, when another has already scheduled its own special election.

"We can then share those expenses and minimize these costs," said board president Jim Harvey.

"If we're going to save money, (then) that's the logical date," board Jodi Collingham concurred.

The board voted to hold the election on Feb. 2 by a 4-0 vote. Under state law, the election had to be held a minimum of 88 days after the meeting to choose a date but not more than 125 days.

In the meantime, Turnbull's seat is vacant, as it has been for more than three months, according to fellow board members. After months of unexcused absences, board members voted on Sept. 1 to vote her off the board.

Read more.

Election of New Mayor Caps San Bernardino Recall Effort | 02/05/14

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA  - (INT) - Voters demanded change in the bankrupt city's politics and Tuesday's election set the stage.

A process that began with November's recall election was capped with the election of corporate controller Carey Davis as Mayor. Financial analyst Henry Nickel fills the vacant Fifth Ward City Council seat.

Councilman Fred Shorett was retained in the Fourth Ward and says 'night has become day' at City Hall since the November recall.

Read more.

Petitions Filed for Recall of Southern California Mayor | 12/09/13

Moreno Valley residents met a key deadline Thursday, Dec. 5, by submitting signed petitions for their campaign to recall Mayor Tom Owings.

Recall organizers say they turned in petitions bearing nearly 5,690 signatures - about 2,150 more than they need - to the city clerk. The Riverside County Registrar of Voters has 30 days to verify that the minimum number of valid voters' signatures were turned in before the recall election is put on a ballot.

Read more.

Voters Recall San Bernardino City Attorney | 11/07/13

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif,. -- After 26 years, James F. Penman's role as San Bernardino's city attorney has come to an end.

Nearly 60 percent of voters favored recalling Penman, although the total number of votes cast -- 11,048 -- was less than the 15 percent of registered voters who signed a petition asking for his recall to be on the ballot.

Read more.

Recall Begins against San Diego's Mayor | 08/19/13

Efforts to recall San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, the 70-year-old Democrat who is embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal, kicked off in earnest this weekend, with a petition drive and protest at City Hall.

About 250 protesters showed up for the "Freedom From Filner March and Rally" at City Hall on Sunday, according to KFMB-TV in San Diego, and volunteers circulated petitions at events including a half-marathon.

Read more.

Councilman Faces Recall Effort Over Support for NFL at Rose Bowl | 01/21/13

A Pasadena councilman is facing a recall campaign over his support for an ordinance that cleared the way for negotiations to bring professional football to the Rose Bowl.

Click here for full article.  


Recall Effort Stalls Against California Local School Board Members | 05/07/12

Oxnard -- Organizers of a recall election petition against three Rio District school board members in Ventura County fell short of the required number of signatures for the initial round.

Click here for full article.

Recall of 3 California City Officials Approved | 02/06/12

The Orange County registrar of voters has verified that enough valid signatures were turned in for a recall election against Fullerton City Council members F. Richard Jones, Don Bankhead and Pat McKinley.
Click here for full article.

Recall Elections Surge in Local and State Governments | 06/22/11

"The new president of Arizona's state Senate, Russell Pearce, had only 21 days to enjoy that position before opponents began circulating petitions in January to recall the freshly reelected conservative. That's more time than Jim Suttle had. The night the Democrat was elected mayor of Omaha in 2009, backers of his rivals began to talk online about trying to remove him from office. Suttle barely survived a recall election in January."

Click here for the full story from Los Angeles Times online.

Let the Recalls Begin | 03/17/10

By Peter Ferrara. This article originally appeared on FOXNews on March 17, 2010.

A New Jersey state appellate court yesterday gave the green light for approval of the circulation of petitions in that state asking for a recall election to remove Democrat U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. State law in 9 states counting New Jersey specifically provides for the recall of members of Congress, just as former California Governor Gray Davis was recalled and replaced with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a recall election in 2003. Those 9 states are represented by 12 incumbent Democratic Senators who are not otherwise up for reelection this year, potentially putting majority control of the Senate even more in play.

Continue reading “Let the Recalls Begin ”.

Throw the Bums Out: Let's Take It On The Road | 02/16/10

By Peter Ferrara. This article originally appeared on Big Government on February 16, 2010.

Eighteen states provide for recall elections to remove state officials. Nine of those provide for the same for their Congressional representatives. But such a right of recall can and should be adopted in every state.

Ideally this would be done by amending the state constitution to provide for such recall elections. But it can be done through statute as well, with the New Jersey Uniform Recall Election Law as a good model.

Continue reading “Throw the Bums Out: Let's Take It On The Road ”.

The Right of Recall | 01/25/10

By Peter Ferrara. This article originally appeared on Fox Forum on January 25, 2010.

Congress is out of control. The public overwhelmingly opposes the pending legislation for a government takeover of health care. But Congressional leaders are telling us they don't care. They know best, and they're going to pass it anyway.

We see the same attitude on other issues, from global warming regulation, to taxes, government spending, deficits, federal debt, energy policy, welfare, corporate bailouts, and beyond. Too many of our Congressional "representatives" seem unwilling to listen to the views of their constituents, insisting that they already know it all. They respond to dissenters with name-calling, labeling them yahoos, Nazis, and tea baggers.

Continue reading “The Right of Recall”.

Each state has its own requirements as to the manner in which petitions must be collected, signed and filed. It is imperative that official recall committees are legally formed in each state according to the state laws and regulations. The handling of the petitions must comply with the laws and regulations of each state.