Frequently Asked Questions
Who is behind this effort to restore constitutional self-government?
This measure was brought forward by concerned citizens who researched various states' recall statutes and vetted the idea with several constitutional attorneys. The American Civil Rights Union is an organization dedicated to protecting the civil rights of all Americans. It is this mission that has spurred the ACRU to provide information to citizens who may wish to mount a grass roots effort to protect their constitutional rights by recalling members of Congress or state or local officials who have threatened the general welfare, misbehaved or performed badly in office.
Can I recall my state or local elected official?
If you live in one of these states, your state is a recall state. The methods and rules of recall vary from state to state, so you will need to first read up on your state's recall options and then follow the directions provided by your state or local Board of Elections.
How do I get started?
After thoroughly going though this website, contact your state or local Board of Elections or the equivalent thereof to get specifics for a recall effort. Check with the appropriate government entity for instructions on the procedures.
We also recommend enlisting legal counsel and organizing a group of like-minded individuals to read and fully understand what is involved in a recall effort before proceeding.
Are there specific grounds for recall?
Specific grounds for recall are required in only eight states:
Alaska: Lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties or corruption (AS §15.45.510).
Georgia: Act of malfeasance or misconduct while in office; violation of oath of office; failure to perform duties prescribed by law; willfully misused, converted, or misappropriated, without authority, public property or public funds entrusted to or associated with the elective office to which the official has been elected or appointed. Discretionary performance of a lawful act or a prescribed duty shall not constitute a ground for recall of an elected public official. (Ga. Code §21-4-3(7) and 21-4-4(c)).
Kansas: Conviction for a felony, misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform duties prescribed by law. No recall submitted to the voters shall be held void because of the insufficiency of the grounds, application, or petition by which the submission was procured. (KS Stat. §25-4301).
Minnesota: Serious malfeasance or nonfeasance during the term of office in the performance of the duties of the office or conviction during the term of office of a serious crime (Const. Art. VIII §6).
Montana: Physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of oath of office, official misconduct, conviction of certain felony offenses (enumerated in Title 45). No person may be recalled for performing a mandatory duty of the office he holds or for not performing any act that, if performed, would subject him to prosecution for official misconduct. (Mont. Code §2-16-603).
Rhode Island: Authorized in the case of a general officer who has been indicted or informed against for a felony, convicted of a misdemeanor, or against whom a finding of probable cause of violation of the code of ethics has been made by the ethics commission (Const. Art. IV §1).
Virginia: Neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office, or upon conviction of a drug-related misdemeanor or a misdemeanor involving a "hate crime" (§24.2-233).
Washington: Commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office, or who has violation of oath of office (Const. Art. I §33).
The language in Michigan's Constitution, however, is more typical, and acknowledges the political nature of recall efforts: "The sufficiency of any statement of reasons or grounds...shall be a political rather than a judicial question." (Const. Art. II, §8).
In general, how does a recall work?
The recall process is similar to that for initiatives in that citizen petitions are required. The number of signatures necessary to qualify a recall petition, however, is significantly higher than for initiatives. For specific state by state information, click here.
- Why Recall Congress?
- What gives a citizen the right to begin a recall of U.S. Senators?
- Why are you focusing on Senators and not Members of the House of Representatives?
- Where can Senators be recalled?
- How can Senators be recalled?
- How can I get started?
Why Recall Congress?
Every U.S. Senator takes an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, yet this Congress has consistently voted for programs that are against both the spirit and letter of the Constitution. The Senators in recall states are guilty of malfeasance and fiscal impropriety. They have voted to incur massive debt upon the people; their actions have thrown the nation, even the world, into financial morass, and they are legislating unconstitutional programs such as socialized medicine. The right of recall maintains democratic accountability throughout the term of an elected official, enabling citizens to correct such abuses without having to wait for the entire term to expire.
What gives a citizen the right to begin a recall of a U.S. Senator?
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Moreover, the 10th Amendment states that what is not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution is left to the states or to the people. And the 17th Amendment holds that Senators shall be elected by the people of each state and that electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature. Under these constitutional mandates, the people in any state have the right to recall a U.S. Senator or Representative as provided by their state's law, in their state Constitution, or statutes.
Why focus on Senators and not Members of the House of Representatives?
Several states in their recall provisions do not allow petitioning to begin until the official has "been in office for a year." Since all Members of the House face new elections every two years, there is no strong reason to apply recall to them. For Senators, however, there is ample reason to have the power of recall, if it is available.
Where can Senators be recalled?
How can Senators be recalled?
The process in each state is different, but there are some common aspects. In general, an organization must be formed to conduct the petition drive for signatures of registered voters who believe that the Senator(s) should be recalled. Once the petition is approved by the state's supervisory department (usually the Secretary of State or the State Board of Elections) the organization has a certain period of time to gather the signatures--usually 60 to 180 days. The organization then must gather the requisite number of signatures (depending on the state, anywhere from 15% to 40% of the number of registered voters who voted in the last gubernatorial or senate election) and file them with the appropriate government department. Afterwards, depending on the state's law, either a recall election will be held to determine if the Senator should be recalled, with the Senator then standing for re-election in a special election, or the Senator will stand for re-election on the next election ballot.
How can I get started?
Click here to receive information on how to proceed in your state.