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Recall Process

A guideline prepared by the Office of the City Clerk

The following information is provided as a general guideline to the recall process in the City of San Diego.

For legal provisions, see SDMC, Chapter 2, Article 7, Division 27 (PDF)

Officials Subject to Recall

  1. Any official elected by Citywide vote who has held office for six (6) months or more, and against whom no recall petition has been filed within the preceding six (6) months, may be recalled by a majority vote of the voters of the City.
  2. A City Councilmember who was elected by district vote and has held office for six (6) months or more, and against whom no recall petition has been filed within the preceding six (6) months, may be recalled by a majority of the voters in the district represented by the Councilmember.
  3. A recall petition may not be filed if the elected official's term of office will end within six months or less of the date the petition is presented for filing. (SDMC 27.2701)

SIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS

Before a recall petition may be submitted to the Council, it must contain the signatures of at least 15 percent (15%) of the registered voters in the City, for officials elected by Citywide vote, or in the district, for Councilmembers elected by district vote. No petition may be addressed to the recall of more than one official.


THE NUMBER OF VALID SIGNATURES REQUIRED FOR SUBMITTING A RECALL PETITION TO THE CITY COUNCIL IS BASED ON A PERCENTAGE OF THE NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO AT THE LAST GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION. PLEASE CONTACT THE CLERK'S OFFICE, ELECTIONS DIVISION, AT (619) 533-4025 FOR THE NUMBER OF SIGNATURES CURRENTLY REQUIRED, OR SEE CURRENT SIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS (PDF).


NOTICE OF INTENTION TO CIRCULATE A PETITION

The proponents of a recall action shall publish a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition. The notice shall be published at least once in a daily newspaper of general circulation published in the City of San Diego. The notice of intention shall contain:

  1. The name and office of the person to be recalled, and
  2. A statement containing, in 300 words or less, the reasons for the petition. The statement must be signed by the five proponents forming a committee proposing the petition. The five proponents must be residents and registered voters of the City, in the case of a petition for the recall of an official elected by Citywide vote, or residents and registered voters of the Council district represented by a Councilmember, in the case of a petition to recall a Councilmember.

A sample format for such notice is given below:

NOTICE OF INTENT TO CIRCULATE PETITION

Notice is hereby given of the intention of the person(s) whose name(s)
appear(s) hereon to circulate a petition within the City of San Diego for the purpose of
__________________________________________________.

A statement of the reasons for the proposed action as contemplated in said petition is as follows:

[Statement not to exceed 300 words]

Signatures of Proponents

AFFIDAVIT OF PUBLICATION

Within ten (10) days after the date of publication of the notice of intention and statement, the proponent(s) shall file with the City Clerk a copy of the notice and statement as published together with an affidavit made by a representative of the newspaper in which the notice was published, certifying to the fact of publication.

NOTICE ON OFFICIAL

Within five (5) days after the date of publication of the notice of intention and statement, the proponent(s) shall cause a copy of the notice to be served, personally or by registered mail, on the official whose recall is sought. An Affidavit of Service showing the method of service shall be filed in the office of the Clerk.

OFFICIAL'S ANSWER

Within fourteen (14) days after the publication of the notice of intention to circulate a recall petition, the official whose recall is sought or his designated representative may answer to the statement. Such answer shall be three hundred (300) words or less in length and must be signed by the individual proposing the answer or, in the case of an organization, by two (2) officers. A copy of the answer, if any, shall be published by the proponent(s) at least once in a daily newspaper of general circulation. A published copy shall also be filed forthwith in the office of the Clerk.

THE PETITION

The form and format of the recall petition, including the form of voter signature sheets and information to be included on such sheets, shall follow the guidelines as outlined in the City Clerk Administrative Guidelines (PDF)

A recall petition shall contain the name and office of the person whose recall is sought, a copy of the notice of intention to circulate a recall petition and its accompanying statement, and if an answer has been filed, a copy of the answer. If no answer has been filed, the petition shall so state.

Proponents shall supply their own petition forms.

The petition shall consist of sheets of white paper uniform in size with dimensions no smaller than 8-1/2 by 11 inches or greater than 8-1/2 by 14 inches. If the petition contains more than one sheet of paper, it shall be fastened together securely. The recall petition shall be in the following form:

RECALL PETITION

PETITION FOR THE RECALL OF ____________________________

FROM THE OFFICE OF ___________________________________

(The title in the form prescribed above with the blank spaces filled in must be set forth in full at the top of each page of the petition.)

We, the undersigned registered voters of (The City of San Diego, California) (Council District ___) demand the recall of __________________________ from the office of __________________________________.

The following are the reasons for demanding such recall:

(Insert a copy of the published notice of intention, statement and answer here. If the officer did not answer, insert a statement to that effect here.)

____________________ _____________________ __________
____________________ _____________________ __________
____________________ _____________________ __________
____________________ _____________________ __________
____________________
Signature of Proponent
_____________________
Residence
__________
Date

FORM OF VOTER SIGNATURE SHEETS FOR RECALL PETITION

  • On the right hand side of each voter signature sheet, a space at least one inch wide shall be blank for the City Clerk's use in verifying the validity or invalidity of the signatures. Voter signature sheets shall be arranged and lined to provide space for each voter's signature, each voter's printed name, place of each voter's residence, and date of each voter's signature.
  • Above the signature portion of each voter signature sheet, the following language shall appear in clear, readable type no smaller than 12-point in size.


  • "NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC THIS PETITION MAY BE CIRCULATED BY A PAID SIGNATURE GATHERER OR BY A VOLUNTEER. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK."

  • The signature portion of the sheet shall be in substantially the following form:
  • Name Residence Date Clerk's Use
    1 Sign                              
    Print






    2 Sign                              
    Print






    3 Sign                              
    Print






    (NOTE: Recall Petitions for Mayor, City Attorney and those Councilmembers elected by Citywide vote may be signed by any voter of the City. Recall Petitions for Councilmembers who were elected by district vote may be signed only by voters within the district represented by the Councilmember.)

    Each section shall have attached to it the affidavit of the person soliciting the signatures. The affidavit of the circulator shall be in the following form:

    AFFIDAVIT

    COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO)
    SS.
    STATE OF CALIFORNIA)
    Under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California, I, _________________________, declare: all
    the signatures on each petition section were made in my presence and were observed by me, and that all of the sheets constituting this petition
    section were fastened together at the time such signatures were made; and that to the best of my knowledge and belief such signatures
    are the genuine signatures of the persons who have signed the petition;
    and that the signatures were obtained between:

    ________________________
    (Beginning date of circulation)
    and _________________________
    (Final date of circulation)
    ________________________
    (Circulator's Printed Name)
    __________________________
    (Circulator's Signature)
    _________________________
    (Date Signed by Circulator)

    CIRCULATING THE PETITION

    Twenty-one (21) days after the publication of the notice of intention and statement, the petition may be circulated among the voters of the City for signatures by any registered voter of the City, for recall of the Mayor or City Attorney, or registered voters of the District, for recall of Councilmembers, providing that a copy of both the notice and affidavit of publication, as well as the affidavit of service, have been filed in the Office of the City Clerk as required.

    SIGNING THE PETITION

    Each voter signing the petition shall sign it in the manner prescribed below:

    1. Signature and printed name, executed by voter in his or her own handwriting.
    2. Place of residence, including street and house number, or other designation from which the location of the place of residence can be readily ascertained, affixed by the voter. Post office box numbers, business addresses, or mailing addresses are not permitted and, if used, shall make that voter's signature invalid.
    3. Date of signature, affixed by the voter.

    Only a person who is a qualified registered voter at the time of signing the petition is entitled to sign it.

    The number of signatures attached to each section shall be at the pleasure of the person soliciting the signature.

    FILING THE PETITION

    A recall petition shall be filed with the City Clerk by the proponent(s), or by any person or persons authorized in writing by the proponent(s). The petition shall be filed not more than 120 days after the date on which the notice of intention to circulate was published.

    The petition must contain the required number of signatures prima facie ("on its face") to be accepted by the Clerk for filing.

    VERIFICATION OF SIGNATURES

    Within 30 days from the date of filing of the petition, the signatures on the petition shall be verified by the Clerk. The signatures may be verified by means of the random sampling method as provided for in California Election Code Section 9115.

    CLERK'S CERTIFICATION

    The City Clerk shall certify the results of the signature verification and send a notice of sufficiency (or insufficiency) to the proponent(s) or a representative of the proponent(s).

    For a sufficient petition, the Clerk shall present the petition with certification attached to the Council, without delay, at the next regular Council meeting at which the matter can be placed on the docket.

    WITHDRAWAL OF SIGNATURE

    Any voter signing a petition may withdraw his or her signature by filing a signed written request in the Office of the City Clerk before the petition containing his or her signature is filed.

    THE RECALL ELECTION

    Once the petition is presented to the Council, the Council shall immediately call a special election. The election shall be held not less than ninety (90) days after adoption of the ordinance calling the election, but not later than one hundred and eighty (180) days after such adoption.

    If any other election is to be held within 180 days from the date the recall petition is presented to Council, at which the same voters are entitled to vote, then the Council may submit the recall proposal and the election of a successor at the latter election.

    If the Clerk has filed the certificate of sufficiency but the election has not yet taken place, and a vacancy occurs in the position occupied by the official whose recall is sought, the election shall not be held.

    Any officer whose recall is sought shall continue to serve until the Council has adopted its resolution declaring the results of the election which shows that a majority of the qualified voters have voted in favor of the recall.

    A person who has been recalled, or who has resigned from office while recall proceedings were pending against him or her, shall not be a candidate for, nor appointed to such office, within one (1) year after the resignation or recall.

    Recall ballots shall contain the name and office of the official whose recall is sought and the names of persons nominated to succeed the official. The statement published by the proponent(s) and the official's response, if any, shall be included in ballot materials.

    If a majority approves the recall of the official and the Council adopts its resolution declaring the results accordingly, the candidate who receives the highest number of votes for the office shall be declared the winner.

    The term of office of a successor elected as the result of a recall shall be for the unexpired term of his or her predecessor.

    For legal provisions, see SDMC, Chapter 2, Article 7, Division 27 (PDF)

    Revised December 2014