Recall them All
I have been reading with great amusement the evil Times and the comments demanding the recall of the “gang of 3”. For those that don’t know or remember, there was a successful recall of the entire commission board back in 1979. Times have changed, however, and it is not easy to do a recall anymore.
The State legislature changed the rules for a recall election back in 1989. The law is codified in O.C.G.A. 21-4-1 through 21-4-21. Here is the process:
1. You need to obtain a recall petition from the elections office
a. The sponsor (Chairperson) will need to sign an affidavit certifying that the grounds of the recall are based and true and that all of the signatures are registered voters under penalty of law.
b. Obtain at least 100 signatures of registered voters.
c. Return the petition to the elections office within 15 days.
2. Within 4 days after the date of the recall petition, the office sought to be recalled may (and probably will) file a petition with the court to validate the grounds of the recall.
a. O.C.G.A. § 21-4-6(f) says; “Such review shall be limited solely to a review of the legal sufficiency of the recall ground or grounds and the legal sufficiency of the alleged fact or facts upon which such ground or grounds are based as set forth in such recall application. The review of such alleged fact or facts shall include a determination of whether probable cause exists to believe that such alleged fact or facts are true. The burden shall be on the petition chairperson to prove that such probable cause exists.”
b. During the judicial review, all recall proceedings shall be suspended.
3. The recall petition will need to be signed by 30% of the number of electors registered and qualified to vote at the last preceding election for any candidate offering for the office held by the officer.
a. The petition will need to be returned within 90 days.
4. If all the signatures are collected and validated, there will be a special election where ½ of the voters will have to vote yes.
The recall process was designed to be difficult. Since 2005, I have found 13 recall efforts where 100 initial signatures initiated a petition. 4 of the recall efforts are currently underway. Of the 9 that have come to a resolution, 6 failed to generate enough signatures, 2 were stopped by Judges due to lack of grounds, and 1 made it to the ballot box successfully (Evermore Community Improvement District).
I don’t think they will have a hard time collecting 100 signatures, but after that, the process get’s difficult. They will need to show cause. The law says that “discretionary performance of a lawful act or a prescribed duty shall not constitute a ground for recall of an elected public official. (O.C.G.A. 21-4-3(7))”. Sources close to Commissioner Lutz, said his opinion on the recall effort was that he does not want to interfere with the democratic process. When asked if he would appeal to a judge if they get 100 signatures, his answer was not a definitive either way (politicians crack me up), but when informed of the process and told that he would be accused of misconduct, he mentioned that he would defend himself against any and all charges.
If the commissioners choose not to take legal action or a judge rules that the recall petition is valid, then you have the issue where you have to collect 30% of the signatures within 90 days. For Commissioner Gibbs, they would need 5,433 signatures and for Lutz they would need 8,653 signatures. It looks like Commissioner Bell would be the easiest since he only requires 3,226 signatures. This is an unrealistic number. Ask anyone that has tried to gain ballot access in this state how hard it is to get people to sign a petition and you will begin to see the scope of the challenge.
It will be interesting to see the committee members (if they are willing to actually sign the affidavits) that are behind the effort. We shall see. It is possible that there could be some real fireworks this 4th of July.
Hugh Hall County Akston