According to the procedural handbook on the state’s website, the power of voters to remove elected officials before the expiration of their terms has been part of California government since 1911.
Proponents begin the recall of a local officer by serving him or her in person or by certified mail with a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition. The notice must then filed with the proper election official – in St. Helena, the city clerk – and published once in a general circulation newspaper. If no local newspaper exists, the notice is posted in no fewer than three public places.
The notice of intention must identify the officer to be recalled, a 200-word statement of the reasons for the recall, and the printed name, signature and residence of each recall proponent.
Whether the stated reason for recall is valid is not reviewable.
The required number of notice signatures varies by location; in St. Helena 25 residents’ signatures are needed. The local notice to recall Mayor Alan Galbraith got 26.
Proponents then file proof of publication of the notice, along with two blank copies of a recall petition with the secretary of state.
Each of the steps has time restrictions. Within seven days after the filing of the notice of intention, the officer to be recalled may file a 200-word response with the secretary of state.
The petition is formatted by the secretary of state. Each signature page must include, in no less than 8-point type, a request that an election be called to elect a successor to the office; a copy of the notice of intention, including the statement of reasons for recall, and the names (no addresses) of at least 10 proponents; the answer of the officer sought to be recalled. If the officer has not answered, the petition must so state.
Each signer of the petition must personally place his or her own information on the petition and must personally sign it, unless prevented by disability, including a printed name, signature and address.
The circulator must also personally affix his or her printed name and residence address and the specific dates of circulation.
In St. Helena, the deadline to submit the petition is 60 days after approval by the elections official, with the number of signatures totaling at least 25 percent of registered voters in St. Helena -- in this case 835 out of 3,337.
Once an election order is issued, candidates may declare for the office not less than 75 days before the election. The official up for recall may not declare for candidacy.
(This article has been corrected to clarify that the recall petition requires the signatures of at least 25 percent of registered St. Helena voters in the last report of registration to the California Secretary of State, not 25 percent of those who registered in the last election.)