House likes idea of changing percentage of signatures for recall petitions

<p class="p1">BATON ROUGE — A bill changing the percentage of voters who must sign recall petitions in larger voting districts cleared the House this week with an 88-3 vote and is awaiting Senate action.</p><p class="p1">Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, is sponsoring House Bill 362, a measure he got through the House last year. However, it died in the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee. The vote last year was 69-28.</p><p class="p1">Current law requires that 40 percent of the voters in districts with 1,000 or fewer voters must sign recall petitions. Hollis’ measure keeps that requirement, but sets up three other proposed categories.</p><p class="p1">Recall petitions would require 331⁄3 percent of the voters in districts with 1,000 to 24,999 voters, 25 percent in districts from 25,000 to 99,999 voters, and 20 percent with 100,000 or more voters.</p><p class="p1">Reps. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles; Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur; Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff; A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles; Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings; and Frank Howard, R-Many, voted for the bill. Reps. James Armes, D-Leesville; Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville; and Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek, were reported as absent. Hill is on a medical leave of absence.</p><p class="p1">Those filing recall petitions would have 180 days to get their signatures. The petitions would have to contain a clear statement of the reason or reasons for the recall. Petitions would have to be filed with every registrar of voters in the voting district. If sufficient signatures are verified by the registrar, the governor would have to call a recall election.</p><p class="p1">Recall elections aren’t possible if less than six months remain in a term of office. Once a signature is obtained, the recall petition becomes a public record. All signatures have to be handwritten. Additional details about recall election are available at the secretary of state’s website, www.sos.la.gov.</p><p class="p1">From 1966 to 2013, 113 recall petitions were filed and 71 officials were recalled. The other recall elections either failed at the polls or the officials involved resigned. </p><p class="p1">Three recall elections have been held or scheduled since 2014, according to the website. A council member in Ascension Parish was recalled in 2014, and a Washington chief of police was recalled in 2016. An effort to recall an alderman in Mansfield in 2016 failed. A council member in Gonzales resigned in 2014 prior to the recall election.</p>