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Bills would Decrease Threshold and Timeframe for Public Efforts to Recall Officials; Recall Election could be Triggered by 25% of Amount of Last Election Voters

(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Wayne P. DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) today renewed his push for recall election reform measures that would put in place realistic recall election standards to ensure that elected officials are accountable by the public for their actions and removed from office. DeAngelo said that the current timeframes and requirements for recall elections are daunting and can serve as a deterrent for residents seeking to remove elected officials who do not live up to their oath of office.

“The public has a right to seek to remove elected officials from office if there is an overwhelming or clear demonstration that the official is not fulfilling their duties and responsibilities for the betterment of the community. The recall process should not be such an intimidating procedure that the residents throw up their hands and become resigned to the fact that their representative that does not serve them effectively,” said DeAngelo.

The first measure in DeAngelo’s recall election reform package would shorten the timeframe for when a recall effort can begin if the elected official is in their first year in office. The bill would change the timeframe to allow for a recall effort to begin 90 days before the one year anniversary of the elected official taking office. Currently, a recall effort cannot occur until 50 days before the end of the first year of the term. The measure would take effect immediately if signed into law.

“Reducing the timeframe within which residents can begin the recall process would restore faith in residents that they are not ‘stuck with’ a wholly unqualified or ineffective representative and lets them begin the process of moving forward to either hold that individual accountable or choose new representation,” said DeAngelo.

The two other measures would lower the number of signatures required on a petition to trigger a recall election. Under current law, a recall election is triggered if 25 percent of the number of registered voters eligible to vote in an election — for the official that they seek to recall – sign a recall petition. The DeAngelo measure would lower the signature requirement to 25 percent of the number of votes cast in the election in which the official won.

“We need to be realistic about the percentage of voters that participate in elections. The requirement that 25 percent of registered voters must sign a recall petition is often a greater number that the turnout rate in the best of circumstances,” said DeAngelo. “By adjusting the number of signatures required to trigger a recall election, we are setting a realistic and feasible standard for public participation.”

In order to bring about the change in signatures, a statewide ballot question must pass to allow the Legislature to enact a law to alter the number of signatures required. Subsequent legislation to make the change would then need to be signed into law.

The DeAngelo recall election reform measures will be introduced tomorrow, May 10, 2012 at the General Assembly quorum call.