Ballot Measures

Recall Process

Information on the Recall Process of Elected Officals

In 1979, District residents were granted the right to recall elected officials with the passage of the Initiative, Referendum, and Recall Procedures Act. Any elected officer of the District of Columbia government (except the Delegate to Congress for the District of Columbia) may be recalled by the registered electors from the election district from which he or she was elected, whenever a petition demanding his or her recall, signed by 10-percent of the registered voters is filed with DCBOE.

The Board has published this information sheet to outline the recall process, which has three phases: the signature gathering phase, the petition filing and verification phase, and the election phase. For a complete reading of the laws and regulations concerning the recall of elected officials, see DC Official Code §§ 1-204.112 and 1-1001.17, and Title 3 DCMR Chapter 11, "Recall of Elected Officials."

The Signature Gathering Phase

1. The Notice of Intention to Recall - The recall proceedings begin when a registered voter files a Notice of Intention to Recall with the Board of Elections . This document must state the reasons for the proposed recall and is limited to 200 words. A Notice of Intention to Recall for a citywide or ward-level office may not be filed during the first or last 365 days of the official's term. In the case of an ANC recall, the Notice of Intention to Recall may not be filed during the first six months or last six months of the Commissioner's term. The Board serves a copy of the Notice to the official, who may file a response of 200 words or less. The response must be filed within 10 calendar days after the filing of the Notice of Intention to Recall.

The registered voter (also known as the proposer) must file a Verified Statement of Contributions (a Statement of Organization and first Report of Receipts and expenditures) with the Office of Campaign Finance (“OCF”) within 10 days of organization. Failure to file the required statements will result in rejection of the measure before the petition is issued.  This requirement does not apply to efforts to recall an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner.

2. The Petition Form - After the official is given the opportunity to file a response, the proponent may begin to circulate the petition calling for a recall election. The petition by law must include the proponent's notice and the official's response (if any), along with other requirements outlined in the Board's regulations. By law, the recall petition form must be approved by the Board before it can be circulated.

3. Signature Requirements - The recall petition must be signed by at least 10-percent of the voters registered in the election district which the elected officer represents -- citywide, ward, or ANC. This figure is determined by the published registration totals in effect 30 days before the submission of the signatures for the particular recall petition. In the case of a citywide recall, the signatures submitted must also meet ward distribution requirements, such that the petition contains signatures of at least 10-percent of the voters in at least five of the city's eight election wards, in addition to meeting the 10-percent requirement citywide.

Petition Filing and Verification Phase

1. Filing of Recall Petition - The proponents of a citywide or ward-level recall have a maximum of 180 days to collect the signatures and file the recall petition with the Board. In the case of an ANC recall, the proponents have 60 days.

2. Board Determination of the Sufficiency of the Recall Petition - The process for verifying the petition signatures is complex and detailed. See D.C. Official Code §1-1001.17(k)-(l).  In general, the Board must determine whether each person whose name appears on the petition is a properly registered DC voter (in the particular election district, if applicable) and then verify a random sample of the signatures on the petition against the signature on file for the voter in the Board's records. Statistical formulas are used during the random sample to ensure, with at least a 95-percent confidence level, that the petition meets the legal requirements. The Board is given 30 days to complete the petition verification process. Under the law, the proponents of the measure and the elected official may send representatives to watch the petition verification process.  For more information on the petition verification process, please contact the Office of the General Counsel by phone at (202) 727-2194 or by email at [email protected].

If the number of signatures meets the statutory requirements, the petition is certified by the Board, and a recall election is scheduled.

The Election Phase

1. Recall Election - By law, a Special Election is scheduled within 114 days after the Board certifies the sufficiency of the recall petition. The purpose of the election is to determine whether to remove the elected official from office. If the number of citizens voting "FOR" the removal of the elected official is greater than the number voting "AGAINST," then the official is removed from office, and the office is filled as provided by law until a subsequent Special Election may be held to fill the remainder of the official's term.

2. Special Election to Fill a Vacancy - A Special Election to fill the remainder of the recalled official's term is held the first Tuesday occurring 114 days after the Board certifies the results of the recall election. In the case of an ANC, the Board must declare the vacancy and follow the normal proceeding for filling ANC vacancies. The official recalled is not prohibited from being a candidate for the same office in the Special Election.