With one former Illinois Governor in jail on corruption charges and another on the way, Illinois was ready for recall reform on January 29, 2009.
Recall is a tool of direct democracy by which an elected official can be removed from office before his term of office expires by a direct vote of the people.
Gov. Pat Quinn, a recall advocate since 1976, pushed for a constitutional amendment to allow gubernatorial recall.
Known as House Joint Constitutional Amendment 31, the Recall Amendment was passed nearly unanimously by the General Assembly for consideration by voters in the November 2010 general election.
HJCA 31 included checks and balances to prevent abuse, such as:
HJCA 31 passed with 1,639,158 votes to 846,966 votes, or 65.9%, well above the required 60% threshold, making Illinois the 19th state to permit the recall of a governor.
SECTION 7. INITIATIVE TO RECALL GOVERNOR
- The recall of the Governor may be proposed by a petition signed by a number of electors equal in number to at least 15% of the total votes cast for Governor in the preceding gubernatorial election, with at least 100 signatures from each of at least 25 separate counties. A petition shall have been signed by the petitioning electors not more than 150 days after an affidavit has been filed with the State Board of Elections providing notice of intent to circulate a petition to recall the Governor. The affidavit may be filed no sooner than 6 months after the beginning of the Governor's term of office. The affidavit shall have been signed by the proponent of the recall petition, at least 20 members of the House of Representatives, and at least 10 members of the Senate, with no more than half of the signatures of members of each chamber from the same established political party.
- The form of the petition, circulation, and procedure for determining the validity and sufficiency of a petition shall be as provided by law. If the petition is valid and sufficient, the State Board of Elections shall certify the petition not more than 100 days after the date the petition was filed, and the question "Shall (name) be recalled from the office of Governor?" must be submitted to the electors at a special election called by the State Board of Elections, to occur not more than 100 days after certification of the petition. A recall petition certified by the State Board of Elections may not be withdrawn and another recall petition may not be initiated against the Governor during the remainder of the current term of office. Any recall petition or recall election pending on the date of the next general election at which a candidate for Governor is elected is moot.
- If a petition to recall the Governor has been filed with the State Board of Elections, a person eligible to serve as Governor may propose his or her candidacy by a petition signed by a number of electors equal in number to the requirement for petitions for an established party candidate for the office of Governor, signed by petitioning electors not more than 50 days after a recall petition has been filed with the State Board of Elections. The form of a successor election petition, circulation, and procedure for determining the validity and sufficiency of a petition shall be as provided by law. If the successor election petition is valid and sufficient, the State Board of Elections shall certify the petition not more than 100 days after the date the petition to recall the Governor was filed. Names of candidates for nomination to serve as the candidate of an established political party must be submitted to the electors at a special primary election, if necessary, called by the State Board of Elections to be held at the same time as the special election on the question of recall established under subsection (b). Names of candidates for the successor election must be submitted to the electors at a special successor election called by the State Board of Elections, to occur not more than 60 days after the date of the special primary election or on a date established by law.
- The Governor is immediately removed upon certification of the recall election results if a majority of the electors voting on the question vote to recall the Governor. If the Governor is removed, then (i) an Acting Governor determined under subsection (a) of Section 6 of Article V shall serve until the Governor elected at the special successor election is qualified and (ii) the candidate who receives the highest number of votes in the special successor election is elected Governor for the balance of the term.