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Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State

Frequently Asked Questions - Recall of Elected State Officers

What is the process involved in recalling an elected state officer?
What information is required on a "Proposed Recall Petition"?
What is the definition of "nonfeasance"?
How is a vacancy for a state officer filled?
What is the definition of “State Officer”?
What is the standard for an elected state officer to be subject to recall?
What is the definition of “malfeasance”?
What is the definition of “Serious Crime”?
Who is eligible to sign the Proposed Recall Petition?
What is the difference between a Proposed Recall Petition and a Recall Petition?
Who is eligible to sign the Recall Petition?
What information is required on a “Recall Petition”?
Is there a deadline for holding a Recall Election?
Is there a filing fee for filing a Proposed Recall Petition?
Is there a limit on the number of Proposed Recall Petitions for the same office that can be filed?
How long does the Secretary of State have to complete the verification process of a Recall Petition?
What if statistical sampling shows that there are fewer than the required number of valid signatures on a Recall Petition, but the 90-day time limit has not yet expired?

Q: What is the process involved in recalling an elected state officer?
A:

(Please note:  A recall election may not occur fewer than six months before the end of the term of the elected state officer.). 

Step 1:  A proposed petition to recall an elected state officer (“Proposed Recall Petition”) stating the specific grounds upon which the state officer is sought to be recalled and a complete synopsis (summary) of the specific facts that are alleged to warrant (justify) recall on those grounds must be signed by 25 or more persons who are eligible voters residing within the area served by the official. (Blank sample petitions are available from the Secretary of State or on the Secretary of State’s web site, at the Petitions webpage) (Minnesota Statutes §211C.04)

Step 2:  The petitioners must file the Proposed Recall Petition with the Secretary of State along with a $100.00 filing fee.  The petition must designate in writing no more than three individuals among the signers to represent all petitioners in matters relating to the recall. (Minnesota Rule 8205.2000)

Step 3:  The Secretary of State verifies that the Proposed Recall Petition contains at least 25 valid signatures.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.04; Minnesota Rule 8205.2010)

Step 4:  If fewer than 25 valid signatures, the Proposed Recall Petition is dismissed by the Secretary of State.  If the Proposed Recall Petition satisfies all requirements, the Secretary of State shall immediately notify in writing the State Officer named and forward the Proposed Recall Petition to the Clerk of Appellate Courts.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.04)

Step 5:  Upon receiving the Proposed Recall Petition from the Secretary of State, the Clerk of Appellate Courts shall submit it immediately to the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court (“Chief Justice”).  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 1)

Step 6:  The persons proposing the Proposed Recall Petition provide materials supporting the petition to the Chief Justice (or designee).  (Minnesota Statutes § 211C.05, subdivision 1)

Step 7:  The officer who is named in the Proposed Recall Petition may submit materials in opposition to the Chief Justice (or designee).  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 1)

Step 8:  The Chief Justice (or designee) shall review the Proposed Recall Petition to determine whether it alleges specific facts that, if proven, would constitute grounds for recall under the Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, Section 6; and Minnesota Statutes §211C.02

Step 9:  If the Proposed Recall Petition does not allege specific facts that, if proven, would constitute grounds for recall, the Chief Justice (or designee) shall immediately issue an order dismissing the Proposed Recall Petition and indicating the reason for dismissal.

If the Proposed Recall Petition does allege specific facts that, if proven, would constitute grounds for recall, the Chief Justice (or designee) shall assign the case to a special master (an active Judge or retired Judge) for a public hearing. (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 1)

Step 10:  The special master holds a public hearing on the allegations of the Proposed Recall Petition must be held within 21 days after the issuance of the order assigning the case to a special master (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 2)

Step 11:  Within seven days after the end of the public hearing, the special master must report to the Supreme Court:

“(1) Whether the persons proposing the petition have shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the factual allegations supporting the petition are true; and

(2) If so, whether the persons proposing the petition have shown that the facts found to be true are sufficient grounds for issuing a recall petition.”

“If the special master determines that these standards have been met, the report must include a statement of specific facts and grounds for the recall petition” (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 2)

Step 12:  Within 20 days, the Supreme Court shall review the report of the special master and make a decision:

If the Supreme Court decides that the standard expressed in Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 2 has not been met the Supreme Court shall dismiss the Proposed Recall Petition.  (If the Supreme Court dismisses a petition under this section because the persons proposing the petition have acted in bad faith in violation of Minnesota Statutes §211C.09, the Supreme Court may assess the persons proposing the petition for reasonable costs of conducting the proceeding.)

If the Supreme Court decides that the standard has been met the court shall prescribe, by order to the Secretary of State, the statement of the specific facts and grounds that must appear on the petition for recall issued under section 211C.06.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 3)

Step 13:  Upon receipt of the order from the Supreme Court, the Secretary of State shall issue a Recall Petition.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.06)

Step 14:  The Recall Petition is circulated.  Petitioners must collect signatures of eligible voters who reside in the district where the officer serves equal to at least 25 percent of the number of votes cast for the office at the most recent general election.  (Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, Section 6)

Step 15:  The Recall Petition must be filed with Secretary of State within 90 days after the date of issuance.  (Minn. Stat. §211C.06)

Step 16:  Upon the filing of the Recall Petition, the Secretary of State verifies the numbers and eligibility of the signers.

If the Secretary of State determines that a Recall Petition has been signed by a sufficient number of eligible voters, the Secretary of State certifies the Recall Petition and immediately notifies, in writing, the governor, the petitioners, and the state officer named in the Recall Petition.

If the Recall Petition is not signed by a sufficient number of eligible voters, the Secretary of State dismisses the petition.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.06)

Step 17:  Within five days of receiving certification of a petition, the Governor issues a Writ calling for a recall election unless the election cannot be held before the deadline specified in the Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, section 6 (i.e. six months before the end of the officer’s term)  (Minnesota Constitution Article VII, section 6; Minnesota Statutes §211C.07)

Step 18:  A recall election is held, and the results canvassed and returned, in the manner provided by law for the state general election:

A question will appear on the ballot giving the voters a yes or no choice on whether or not to recall the elected state officer.  If a majority of the votes cast in a recall election favor the removal of the state officer, the state officer is removed from office as of the date the election results are certified and the office is vacant. If a voter casts a blank ballot it will have the effect of being a no vote.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.07)

 

 

 

Q: What information is required on a "Proposed Recall Petition"?
A:
  1. "The words 'PROPOSED RECALL PETITION' must be printed at the top of each page of the petition." (Minnesota Rule 8205.2000)
  2. "The name and office held by the state officer who is the subject of the recall petition and, in the case of a representative, senator, or district judge, the district number in which the state officer serves." (Minnesota Statutes §211C.03)
  3. "The specific grounds upon which the state officer is sought to be recalled and a concise, accurate, and complete synopsis of the specific facts that are alleged to warrant recall on those grounds." (Minnesota Statutes §211C.03)
  4. "A statement that a recall election, if conducted, will be conducted at public expense."  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.03)
  5. "A statement that persons signing the petition:
    1. must be eligible voters residing within the district where the state officer serves, or in the case of a statewide officer, within the state;
    2. must know the purpose and content of the petition; and
    3. must sign of their own free will and may sign only once." (Minnesota Statutes §211C.03)
  6. A space for the signature and signature date; printed first, middle, and last name; residence address, including municipality and county; and date of birth of each signer. 
    (Minnesota Statutes §211C.03)
Q: What is the definition of "nonfeasance"?
A:
"'Nonfeasance' means intentional, repeated failure of a state officer, other than a judge to perform specific acts that are required duties of the officer." (Minnesota Statutes §211C.01, subdivision 3)
Q: How is a vacancy for a state officer filled?
A:

Governor and Lieutenant Governor - “When a vacancy occurs, from any cause whatever, in the office of governor, the lieutenant governor shall become governor and the last duly elected president of the senate shall become lieutenant governor for the remainder of the term. When a vacancy occurs, from any cause whatever, in the office of governor and the office of lieutenant governor, the president of the senate shall become governor for the remainder of the term. If there be no president of the senate, then the speaker of the house shall become governor for the remainder of the term; or if there be none, then the secretary of state, or the auditor, or the attorney general, in that order shall upon resignation from office, become governor for the remainder of the term.” (Minnesota Statutes §4.06)

Secretary of State, State Auditor, Attorney General, and Judges – “Powers and Duties of the Governor…He shall fill any vacancy that may occur in the offices of secretary of state auditor, attorney general and the other state and district offices hereafter created by law until the end of the term for which the person who had vacated the office was elected or the first Monday in January following the next general election, whichever is sooner, and until a successor is chosen and qualified.” (Minnesota Constitution, Article V, Section 3)

State Senators and State Representatives – “A vacancy in the office of state senator or state representative shall be filled for the unexpired term by special election upon the writ of the governor as provided in Minnesota Statutes sections 204D.17 to 204D.27; except that if the legislature will not be in session before the expiration of the vacant term no special election is required.” (Minnesota Statutes §204D.17, subdivision 1)

Q: What is the definition of “State Officer”?
A:
State Officer means a member of the Minnesota Senate, a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives; a justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court (“Supreme Court”), a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, a District Court judge, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, the State Auditor, or the Attorney General.  (Minnesota Constitution, Article V, Section 1; Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, Section 6; Minnesota Statutes §211C.01, subdivision 5)
Q: What is the standard for an elected state officer to be subject to recall?
A:
  1. An elected state officer, other than a judge:  “Serious malfeasance or nonfeasance during the term of office in the performance of the duties of the office or conviction during the term of office of a serious crime.”  (Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, Section 6)
  2. A judge:  “The grounds for recall of a judge shall be established by the Supreme Court.” (Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, Section 6)
Q: What is the definition of “malfeasance”?
A:
“’Malfeasance’ means the intentional commission of an unlawful or wrongful act by a state officer other than a judge in the performance of the officer’s duties that is substantially outside the scope of authority of the officer and that substantially infringes on the rights of any person or entity.”
(Minnesota Statutes §211C.01, subdivision 2)
Q: What is the definition of “Serious Crime”?
A:

“’Serious crime’ means a crime that is punished as a gross misdemeanor, as defined in section 609.02, and that involves assault, intentional injury or threat of injury to person or public safety, dishonesty, stalking, aggravated driving while intoxicated, coercion, obstruction of justice, or the sale or possession of controlled substances.” 

“’Serious crime’ also means a crime that is punished as a misdemeanor, as defined in section 609.02 and that involves assault, intentional injury or threat of injury to person or public safety, dishonesty, coercion, obstruction of justice, or sale or possession of controlled substances.”
(Minnesota Statutes. §211C.01, subdivision 4)

Q: Who is eligible to sign the Proposed Recall Petition?
A:
“Eligible voters residing within the district where the state officer serves, or in the case of a statewide office, within the state.”  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.03)
Q: What is the difference between a Proposed Recall Petition and a Recall Petition?
A:

Proposed Recall Petition: The Proposed Recall Petition is the document that initiates the process and it only requires 25 or more signatures of eligible voters who reside within the district where the officers serve.  It states the reasons why a group of petitioners believe a Recall Petition should be issued.  (Minnesota Statutes 211C.04; Minnesota Rules 8205.2000)

Recall Petition:  A Recall Petition is the document that the State Supreme Court orders to be issued if it determines there has been “serious malfeasance or nonfeasance during the term of office in the performance of the duties of the office or conviction during the term of a serious crime.”  Upon receiving an order from the Supreme Court, the Secretary of State issues a Recall Petition.  The Petitioners must obtain a number of signatures totaling at least 25% of the total number of votes cast for the office at the most recent state general election.  These petitioners have 90 days to gather the required signatures and file the petition with the Secretary of State.  (Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, Section 6; Minn. Rule 8205.2110)

Q: Who is eligible to sign the Recall Petition?
A:
“Eligible voters residing within the district where the state officer serves, or in the case of a statewide officer, within the state.”  (Minnesota Statutes  §211C.03)
Q: What information is required on a “Recall Petition”?
A:
  1. “The words ‘RECALL PETITION’ must be printed at the top of each page of the petition.” (Minnesota Rule 8205.2110, subpart 1a)
  2. “The name and office held by the state officer who is the subject of the recall petition and, in the case of a representative, senator, or district judge, the district number in which the state officer serves.” (Minnesota Statutes §211C.03)
  3. The specific facts and grounds upon which the state officer is sought to be recalled as ordered by the Supreme Court. (Minnesota Statutes §211C.03; §211C.05, subdivision 3)
  4. “A statement that a recall election, if conducted, will be conducted at public expense.”  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.03)
  5. “A statement that persons signing the petition:
    (iv) must be eligible voters residing within the district where the state officer serves, or in the case of a statewide officer, within the state;
    (v) must know the purpose and content of the petition; and
    (vi) must sign of their own free will and may sign only once.” (Minnesota Statutes §211C.03)
  6. A space for the signature and signature date; printed first, middle, and last name; residence address, including municipality and county; and date of birth of each signer. 

(Minnesota Statutes §211C.03)

Q: Is there a deadline for holding a Recall Election?
A:
Yes.  “A recall election may not occur less than six months before the end of the officer's term.”  (Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, Section 6)
Q: Is there a filing fee for filing a Proposed Recall Petition?
A:
Yes.  There is a $100 filing fee.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.04)
Q: Is there a limit on the number of Proposed Recall Petitions for the same office that can be filed?
A:
Yes.  “After the Secretary of State issues a petition to recall a state officer under Minnesota Statutes section 211C.06, the Secretary of State may not accept a proposed petition to recall the same officer until either the earlier petition is dismissed by the Secretary of State for a deficiency of signatures under Minnesota Statutes section 211C.06, or the recall election brought about by the earlier petition results in the officer retaining the office.”  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.04)
Q: How long does the Secretary of State have to complete the verification process of a Recall Petition?
A:
Ten working days after the day on which the Recall Petition is filed. (Minnesota Rule 8205.2120, subpart 2)
Q: What if statistical sampling shows that there are fewer than the required number of valid signatures on a Recall Petition, but the 90-day time limit has not yet expired?
A:

“The secretary of state shall notify the petitioners:

  1. That the petition has not been signed by the required number of eligible voters;
  2. Of the number of additional signatures needed;
  3. That the 90-day time limit has not expired;
  4. Of the number of days left in the 90-day time limit; and
  5. That the petitioner may provide the secretary with additional signatures before the 90-day time limit expires.  If the petitioners do not provide the secretary with additional signatures during the 90-day time limit, the secretary shall dismiss the petition and notify the petitioners.  If the petitioners provide the secretary with additional signatures, the secretary will reverify the petition using the procedure described in subpart 1.”

(Minnesota Rule 8205.2120, subpart 1)

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