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Recall election bill proposed in State House

Recall elections could be coming to Pennsylvania — and not just for statewide office.

Rep. Martina A. White, R-Philadelphia, has introduced House Bill 822 to allow voters to file a petition to remove a sitting governor, attorney general, mayor or district attorney from office. The proposal has been referred to the House’s State Government Committee.

“Holders of these offices hold nearly unilateral authority over certain policy matters,” White wrote in her legislative memorandum. “When these officials use that power to implement policies contrary to the public interests and public safety, voters should be provided with the authority to remove that official from office at any time. My legislation provides a mechanism for this.”

Citizens would have to circulate a petition with signatures from at least 25% of the total votes cast for the position in question in the preceding question. The office holder would then be given 10 days to resign from offfice or a recall election would be scheduled in between 60 to 90 days. Then, if a majority of voters vote in favor of the recall question, the official can be removed from office.

Last year, White introduced a state constitutional amendment allowing recall of elected officials at the local and state levels.

“Many states give their citizens the right to hold recall elections provided certain provisions are met,” White said at the time. “Our citizens have the right to put whoever they want in office. They should have the right to remove their public officials as well when they are not living up to the roles and responsibilities or the best interest of their citizens.”

White is not the only state lawmaker across the country proposing recall elections.

According to NPR Illinois, a pair of Illinois state representatives planned to introduce three amendments when the new General Assembly reconvenes in January, each opening up a new category of elected officials to be recalled. Illinois residents can already recall a governor, but Rep. Mark Batinick and Sen. Jason Barickman want voters to be able to recall the state’s auditor general, state Senate president and state House speaker.

New York state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, has tried to get recall elections passed through the New York state Legislature since 2009. The legislation (S3777), which has been sent to the state Attorney General for an opinion, would place the question of whether to remove and replace statewide-elected officials such as the Governor, Comptroller and Attorney General on the ballot.

“I have been a longstanding advocate of this legislation, as well as other important election-related reforms, since I have been in office,” Griffo said. “Twenty-four states presently allow citizen initiative measures of some type. My bill would further empower New Yorkers and foster a greater participatory democracy in the state.”

A pair of South Carolina legislators are also proposing recall e lections. South Carolina is one of 11 states that do not have a recall election, and the last state to adopt a recall election for an entire state was Minnesota in 1996.

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