Montana’s Recall Election Law
The Wisconsin recall election is over, but the trend of recalling government officials is unlikely to stop anytime soon. In just the last four years, there have been fifteen unsuccessful attempts at recalling a public official and ten successful attempts (placing a name on a ballot, like Scott Walker for example). I thought it might be interesting for readers to take a look at Montana’s recall election laws. Montana is interesting in that it needs the smallest number of signatures of any state in the union (only 10% of voters). Although it’s easier to get someone recalled in Montana as far as signatures go, it is more difficult to get an official on the ballot because a recall can only happen if the candidate suffers from “physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense.” In short, it would be difficult to see a Wisconsin style recall here. There are 18 states with a recall election mechanism, but only seven of those states have a standard that the official has to fail in order to be recalled. In my opinion, Montana is better off with the type of recall we have and we should keep it that way. If you’re interested in reading the Montana Code Annotated regarding recalls, here it is:
Montana Code Annotated:
(1) Any person holding a public office of the state or any of its political subdivisions, either by election or appointment, is subject to recall from office.
(2) A public officer holding an elective office may be recalled by the qualified electors entitled to vote for the elective officer’s successor. A public officer holding an appointive office may be recalled by the qualified electors entitled to vote for the successor or successors of the elective officer or officers who have the authority to appoint a person to that position.
(3) Physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense enumerated in Title 45 are the only grounds for recall. A person may not be recalled for performing a mandatory duty of the office that the person holds or for not performing any act that, if performed, would subject the person to prosecution for official misconduct. History: En. Sec. 2, I.M. No. 73, approved November 2, 1976; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 364, L. 1977; R.C.M. 1947, 59-612; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 398, L. 1979; amd. Sec. 109, Ch. 61, L. 2007.