Report No. 255
C. Comparative Practices
12.14. In the U.S., 19 states allow the recall of elected state representatives, although there have only been two successful recall gubernatorial attempt.- in North Dakota in 1921 and California in 2003.533 The process varies across states, but broadly requires an application be filed to circulate a recall petition, following which the petition is circulated. The petition has to be signed by a specific number of people within a specified time and then submitted to the election officials for verification of signatures. After that, recall election is held.
533. National Conference of State Legislatures, Recall of State Officials, 11th September 2013,
12.15. In 11 of the 19 states, any registered voter (regardless of whether they voted in the original election) can initiate the recall process for any reason and no specific grounds for recall are needed. In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures in the US notes, "often, the reasons are political."534
12.16. Canada provides for the RTR for members of the Legislative Assembly only in British Columbia vide the Recall and Initiative Act 1995. Here, the Chief Electoral Officer is mandated to decide the validity of the signed recall petition, which can be submitted on any grounds after 18 months. If the petition meets the requirements of the Act, a bye-election is conducted within 90 days. Pertinently, of the 24 recall applications approved since 1995, only one has succeeded in collecting enough signatures, although it had to be stopped because the concerned MLA resigned. Thus, no bye-election has ever been conducted.535
535. Elections BC, FAQs,
See also Richard Kelly et al., Recall Elections, Parliament and Constitution Centre, UK House of Commons Library, SN/PC/05089, 12th September 2014, at 8
12.17. Switzerland recognises the RTR in six of its 26 cantons, although not at the federal level. The required number of signatures in the recall petition does not seem to based on a percentage of the electorate and is instead a fixed number, example 1000 in Schaffhauses and 15,000 in Ticino. The last successful recall attempt was in November 2003.536
536. Kelly, supra note 535, at 7
12.18. Venezuela is the only country to have a constitutional RTR, since its introduction into Venezuelan law in 1999 under the new Constitution's Article 72. The RTR can also be applied against the Head of State, and was in fact used against President Hugo Chavez, who survived a recall election with 60% of the vote.537
537. Ibid., at 8. See also, Direct Democracy, THE ACE PROJECT: THE ELECTORAL KNOWLEDGE NETWORK,
12.19. The UK is the latest country to introduce the RTR through its Recall of MP's Bill 2014-15 introduced in the House of Commons on 11th September 2014, three years after its first draft Bill was introduced in December 2011 as a response to the MP's expense crisis in 2009.538
The Bill outlines two circumstances that trigger the recal.- first, a sentence for less than one year of an MP convicted of an offence (given that any sentence over a year leads to disqualification); and second, when the "House of Commons orders the suspension of the MP for at least 21 sitting days-or at least 28 calendar days if the motion is not expressed in terms of sitting days." The recall petition needs to be signed by 10% of the electorate, following which the seat will be vacated and bye-elections held, where the recalled MP can contest again.
538. Kelly, supra note 535, at 4-5
12.20 For all the reasons described above, the Law Commission is not in favour of introducing the RTR in any form.