How to Recall A Long Beach Elected Official occasionally receives email from readers interested in knowing how they and their neighbors can remove an incumbent Councilmember, other city elected official or LB School Board member. There are two ways:

  • (1) Vote them out at a regularly scheduled election when the incumbent's term is up; OR

  • (2) Collect sufficient signatures (numbers below) of registered voters in the elected official's district within a limited period of time (periods below) using a proper recall petition (details below). That triggers a special election on whether the incumbent should be removed and, if so, who should replace him/her.

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Voting out an incumbent at a regularly scheduled election avoids the signature gathering process. Elections are automatic opportunities to elect candidates responsive to the public. However, sometimes issues only become visible after elections (when some incumbents think they are invulnerable.) A high visibility recall drive can focus voters' attention on issues that may make motivate otherwise apathetic or unaware residents to take action. If an incumbent has done something that angers or concerns enough voters, a recall can succeed.

The citywide offices of Mayor, City Attorney, City Prosecutor and City Auditor and district offices of Councilmembers in the 1st, 3d, 5th, 7th, and 9th districts are next up for regularly scheduled elections in April and June 2018. Councilmembers in the 2d, 4th, 6th and 8th Council districts were elected in April and June 2016 and will next be on the ballot in 2020.

A recall can be commenced against an elected official if they've held their current term for more than 90 days, unless a recall has been determined in his/her favor within the last six months, or his/her term of office ends within six months or less. (We provide CA Elections Code sections below.)

Recalls are easy to start but challening to finish successfully. They require attention to detail and intelligent planning.

Among the issues to consider is who will replace the incumbent if the recall proceeds. The person leading the recall movement usually has an advantage, because he/she can be expected to get community attention by virtue of repeatedly making the case against the incumbent. However, any legally qualified individual can seek the office and, if the recall succeeds, any person who chooses to run (not necessarily the recall leader) can win the election to the opened office.

We link below to the CA Elections Code requirements governing recalls. There are statutory notice, publication and other requirements (before collecting any signatures) with which statutory requirements must comply for a valid recall (salient statutes below)...and there are time limits for collecting valid signatures.

  • For Long Beach citywide elected officials (Mayor, City Attorney, City Prosecutor, City Auditor), recall proponents must collect and submit at least 10% of valid registered voter signatures within 160 days.

  • For a Long Beach Councilmember, recall proponents must collect and submit at least 20% of valid registered voter signatures within 120 days.

To view the most recent City Clerk website-posted numbers of Long Beach registered (Citywide, by Council districts, LBUSD and LBCC districts), click here. CAVEAT: Since voter registration numbers change, the number of signatures required for a recall for a specific office can and does change. The City Clerk may have more recently updated figures than those shown online at the link above.

The minimum number of valid signatures required to be collected and submitted means that as a practical matter, recall proponents must collect a larger number of signatures (some of which may turn out to be invalid) in order to ensure the valid minimum number is met.

The CA Elections Code spells out requirements for recalls, see sections 11,000-11,227 at this link.

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