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Recalls in California History

The recall is a rarely used process that permits a public vote to determine whether a public official will be removed from office. Recalls are initiated by the circulation of petitions; for statewide offices, the number of signatures needed is 12% of the votes cast in the last election. For all other partisan offices, the number of signatures is 20% of the votes cast in the last election. In both cases, the petition circulators are on a sharp deadline; the signatures are due 160 days after the Secretary of State approves the language for the petition.
The high number of signatures needed is a major hurdle that most recall campaigns are unable to overcome; since 1913, only nine of the 161 attempted recalls (Source) have qualified for the ballot.

After signatures are approved by the Secretary of State and the election is called, it must occur in the next 60 to 80 days. The election ballot will feature two questions; the first asks the voter to vote on whether the official should be recalled (ex. "Shall Gray Davis be recalled (removed) from the office of governor?") and the second question asks the voter to identify the candidate that they prefer in the event that the recall is successfull. The two questions are independent and it is possible to vote no on the first question and still select a candidate in the second.

Year Office Incumbent Party Outcome Successor Party
2008 State Sen. Jeff Denham R Fail    
2003 Governor Gray Davis D Pass A. Schwarzenegger R
1995 ASM Doris Allen R Pass Scott Baugh R
1995 ASM Mike Machado D Fail    
1995 ASM Paul V. Horcher R Pass Gary G. Miller R
1994 State Sen. David Roberti D Fail    
1914 State Sen. Edwin Grant D Pass Ed Wolfe R
1914 State Sen. James Owens D Fail    
1913 State Sen. Marshall Black R Pass Herbert C. Jones R