Last week’s unsuccessful recall of Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, has highlighted the need for reform of recall provisions in Michigan.The full column will be posted once the newspaper publishes.
As it stands now, any elected office-holder, excluding judges, can be recalled for literally any reason. The rationale for recall is so vague that if enough petition signatures are collected, a politician could be recalled because he wore boxers instead of briefs.
Though recalls have been a constitutional right since 1908, drafters of the state Constitution envisioned recalls as the electorate’s tool of last resort.
Unfortunately, recalls, at least above the level of local government, tend to be driven by special interests and disgruntled partisans looking to re-do who won the last general election.
This is why recalls should be limited to politicians who commit malfeasance, nonfeasance, misfeasance or other forms of malversation. Office-holders shouldn’t worry about being recalled for doing what they have a legal right and duty to do.
But implementing this sensible reform would require amending the Constitution, which is much easier said than done.
Unless Democrats defy Mark Brewer, their party’s partisan bombardier-in-chief, and work with the Legislature’s Republican majority to achieve the necessary two-thirds vote, a massive — and well-funded — petition circulating campaign would be necessary just to get the reform on the ballot for a vote of the people. Yet collecting signatures isn’t easy, as evidence by what recently happened to a certain member of Congress from Livonia.
— Dennis Lennox