Illinois State Representative Kenneth Dunkin recently introduced House Bill 6616, also known as the Laquan McDonald Act, to the General Assembly. If passed, the new law would establish a procedure to allow voters to recall the Chicago Mayor, a Chicago Alderman, or the Cook County State’s Attorney.
While the process does vary depending on which office is being recalled, two documents are always needed: an affidavit and a petition.
First, an affidavit must be submitted to the election commissioners providing notice of intent to circulate petition to recall the Mayor, an alderman, or the State’s Attorney. The affidavit cannot be filed within the first six months of the officer’s term of office. In order to recall the Mayor, the affidavit must be signed by both the petition organizers and at least two aldermen before it can be submitted to the election commissioners. After the affidavit is filed, the organizing electors have 150 days to sign and start circulating the petition to all qualified, register voters. The petition must include the name and title of officer to be recalled, a statement of the reasons for the proposed recall and the name, signatures and address of each proponents of the recall. Furthermore, a notice of intent to recall must be published in a newspaper within the relevant jurisdiction or, if no newspaper available, posted in at least three public places. The officer that the petition is trying to recall has seven days to file an answer.
When recalling the Mayor, the petition must be signed by a number of electors equal in number to at least 10% of the total votes cast for Mayor in the last election. For recalling an Alderman, the petition must be signed by a number of electors equal in number to at least 10% of the total votes casted in the aldermanic election or three times the amount of signatures needed to be nominated by law, whichever is greater. Lastly, recalling the State’s Attorney, the petition needs to be signed by a number of electors equal in number to at least 5% of the total votes cast for State’s Attorney in the preceding election.
If the petition is found to be valid and sufficient, it will be certified by either the board of election commissioners (in the case of recalling the Mayor or Alderman) or the Cook County Clerk (in the case of recalling the State’s Attorney). Once certified, a special recall election will be held within 60 days. If a majority of voters do not vote to recall, another recall petition cannot be brought for six months. However, if a majority of voters do vote to recall, the officer will be removed immediately and a special successor primary election will be held.
Candidates for the special election must petition their candidacy. However, the number of signatures required changes dramatically depending on which office is being recalled. New candidates for Mayor must receive 12,500 signatures, whereas for Alderman only 500 are needed. The largest volume of signatures is 20,000 for State’s Attorney. In the case of recalling an Alderman or the State’s Attorney, if no candidates are presented within the times required, then a replacement shall be appointed as provided by law. Whereas if the Mayor is recalled, the Vice Mayor will fill the office until a new Mayor is elected.
It's not clear whether this particular bill has any traction but there certainly has been plenty of talk about legislation to authorize voter recall of elected officials in every recent legislative session, so we may be seeing something move forward at some point.
Post Authored by Amanda Riggs and Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink