THROM: Give the people the power to recall elected officials | Opinion


When we elect people to represent our states, we hope they will have the people’s best interests at heart. We also hope they refrain from abusing their power and getting involved in various scandals. Whenever an elected official does fail, the people deserve the right to directly remove them from office through a recall election.

Rod Blagojevich, former Illinois senator, was impeached with a 59-0 vote in the Illinois Senate for trying to sell President Obama’s U.S. Senate seat after he became president. Cases of gubernatorial impeachments aren’t too common, yet they do happen. Most governors don’t abuse their power or get involved in serious sex scandals, but those who do are in danger of impeachment by their state legislature.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how unhappy regular American citizens are with their elected officials. It’s not up to us to make the decision to remove the person from office, but that ought to change.

Missourians are currently dealing with a sexual misconduct scandal involving current Gov. Eric Greitens. Both Democrats and Republicans in Missouri are calling for his resignation, which is unlikely considering Greitens has called the allegations “gossip.” Scandals involving public figures have been far too common and the people deserve the right to remove these figures from office should they prove to be unfit for the job at hand.

Impeachment may be the most popular option to remove someone from office, but it’s not practical because it takes far too long and the people have no direct say. There are some alternatives to impeachment, including reassignment, as was the case with the unpopular former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Before he left office, Brownback only had a 24 percent approval rating, but ultimately Kansans got lucky.

There is another way to remove officials from office, but not every state has this right outlined in their constitution.

A recall can remove a public official from office, but only 19 states and the District of Columbia have this ability. Because we live in an era where we constantly receive new information about high-profile figures, it’s important that we have the power to review information as it becomes available to then decide whether to relieve the person of duty or not. Because there is no recall option for Missourians, they must sit idly by and patiently watch as the lengthy legal process unfolds to determine the future of the governor.

There are some obvious dangers to having the ability to recall elected officials. Making an incorrect judgement that then forces someone out of office and people who are simply bitter because the opposing party won are just two of the potential issues with a recall election. But what remains is the fact that right now, citizens don’t have enough say to truly affect change in government leadership.

To have a recall election, people must first obtain a petition and then successfully get a certain number of signatures, which varies by state. After the petition gets enough signatures, the petition goes to an election official who ensures the signatures are valid and assuming they are, a recall election occurs.                               

In 2012, Wisconsin held a recall election for Gov. Scott Walker. The petition for recall received more than 1 million signatures, so an additional election was held for the governor position. Ultimately, Walker was victorious in the recall election, but not all states allow the official in question to run in the recall election.

Having the right to recall an elected official gives power to the people by ensuring their official keeps their promises and knows that should they fail to live up to the expectations of their constituents, they could be out of a job. Additionally, recall elections would ensure elected officials can’t check out until the next election cycle.

The ability to issue a recall for governors would give the general population an opportunity to reexamine the person in question and make an informed decision to remove them from their position or allow them to stay in office. All 50 state’s constitutions need to add an amendment that gives the people the ability to remove an elected official, at any level of government, from office without having to endure the long impeachment process.  

Ali Throm is a senior political science major. Reach her at [email protected] or via @dnopinion.

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