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The Recall Process

Here's a look at the steps it will takes to recall state officials and the history of recalls in Michigan.

A recall on state Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) cleared its first hurdle when petition wording was approved in August by the Wayne County Clerk's office. Colbeck represents Plymouth, Canton and Northville, among other cities.

To place a recall on the ballot, petitioners would have to gather 27,300 valid signatures of 7th District voters by early February - 180 days from when the wording was approved.

Recall organizer Mary Kelley, a Northville resident, said that more than 4,000 petitions are in circulation and her group hopes to gain "more than 50,000" signatures.

Signatures are ruled invalid for a number of reasons ranging from false addresses to signers living outside the specified election district.

An election date would depend on when - and whether - a sufficient number of signatures are validated, according to Wayne County Elections Division Director Delphine Oden.

Petitioners might not be in a hurry to complete the task, however.

"There could be recalls filed against Democrats, too," said Bill Ballenger, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. "And then those recalls could end up on the February presidential primary ballot. I don't think Democrats would want their folks up for recall in a election that would lean so heavily Republican."

Michigan is one of 18 states which allow recalls against elected state officials, according to information provided through the National Conference of State Legislatures which tracks the history of recall elections throughout the U.S.

Wisconsin – where recall elections were held this summer involving a record-setting nine state senators – is another such state. According to NCLS records, all but two of the targeted Wisconsin legislators retained their seats.

In Michigan, recall elections were held in 1983 against Democratic senators Phil Mastin and David Serotkin for their votes supporting an increase in the state income tax to offset a recesssion-fueled
budget crisis.

Mastin, whose Oakland County district was divided between Republican- and Democratic-leaning communities and Serotkin, whose Macomb County district was home to the now-famous Reagan Democrats, were both recalled. Serotkin, however, resigned
his seat before the vote total became official according to information provided on the NCSL Web site.

In 2008, State Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, a Redford Township Democrat, survived a recall election, by a near 2-1 margin. Dillon, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2010, was appointed by Snyder as state treasurer.

For more information on recalls visit the State of Michigan website.

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