According to California law, recall is the power of the voters to remove an elective officer. City Councilmembers and other elected officials are subject to recall through a process of collecting sufficient signatures to force a recall election to be held.

In order to initiate a recall, the proponents (who wish to remove an officer) most file a Notice of Intention, of no more than two hundred words, explaining the reasons for the recall. The reasons are “not reviewable” according to Article II, Section 14(a) of the California Constitution. In other words, the recall process can proceed regardless of whether the given reasons are true or false, valid or invalid.

The recallee (officer being potentially removed) is given seven days to file a response, and then the proponents can circulate petitions containing both their reasons for the recall and the recallee’s response. The petitions can be circulated by any person 18 years or older, which can include people who are paid to gather signatures. (Payment on a per-signature basis is banned in some states but currently legal in California.)

State law determines the number of valid signatures required. In a city with at least 10,000 and fewer than 50,000 registered voters, the requirement is 20% of registered voters. If sufficient signatures are collected and validated, the recall is placed on the ballot for a regularly scheduled election or a special election, depending on timing.

For any recall election, there is also a vote (on the same ballot) to determine a successor to replace the elected official if they are recalled. Any voter can vote for a successor candidate regardless of voting (or not voting) for or against the recall itself.

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