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4 Initiative and Referendum in Local Matters Various commonwealths have adopted the initiative and referendum in local matters by general legislation. The percentages required for the operation of the provisions are as follows: 1
In counties and districts.
Given in Oberholtzer, The Referendum, Initiative, and Recall in America.
In various other states, cities have charters providing for the initiative and referendum. For example,
Grand Rapids, Mich...
35% 25% 15%
12% 35% 25% 15% 15%
Extract from the Iowa Law authorizing certain cities to establish government by commission, showing the recall provision.
"The holder of any elective office may be removed at any time by the electors qualified to vote for a successor of such incumbent. The procedure to effect the removal of an incumbent of an elective office shall be as follows: A petition signed by electors entitled to vote for a successor to the incumbent sought to be removed, equal in number to at least twenty-five per centum of the entire vote for all candidates for the office of mayor cast at the last preceding general municipal election, demanding an election of a successor of the person sought to be removed, shall be filed with the city clerk, which petition shall contain a general statement of the grounds for which the removal is sought. The signatures to the petition need not all be appended to one paper, but each signer shall add to his signature his place of residence, giving the street and number. One of the signers of each such paper shall make oath before an officer competent to administer oaths that the statements therein made are true as he believes, and that each signature to the paper appended is the genuine signature of the person
whose name it purports to be. Within ten days from the date of filing such petition the city clerk shall examine and from the voters' register ascertain whether or not said petition is signed by the requisite number of qualified electors, and, if necessary, the council shall allow him extra help for that purpose; and he shall attach to said petition his certificate, showing the result of said examination. If by the clerk's certificate the petition is shown to be insufficient, it may be amended within ten days from the date of said certificate. The clerk shall, within ten days after such amendment, make like examination of the amended petition, and if his certificate shall show the same to be insufficient, it shall be returned to the person filing the same; without prejudice, however, to the filing of a new petition to the same effect. If the petition shall be deemed to be sufficient, the clerk shall submit the same to the council without delay. If the petition shall be found to be sufficient, the council shall order and fix a date for holding the said election, not less than thirty days or more than forty days from the date of the clerk's certificate to the council that a sufficient petition is filed. The council shall make or cause to be made publication of notice and all arrangements for holding such election, and the same shall be conducted, returned, and the result thereof declared, in all respects as are other city elections. The successor of any officer so removed shall hold office during the unexpired term of his predecessor. Any person sought to be removed may be a candidate to succeed himself, and unless he requests otherwise in writing, the clerk shall place his name on the official ballot without nomination. In any such removal election, the candidate receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected. At such election if some other person than the incumbent receives the highest number of votes, the incumbent shall thereupon be deemed removed from the office upon qualification of his successor. In case the party who receives the highest number of votes should fail to qualify within ten days after receiving notification of election, the office shall be deemed vacant. If the incumbent receives the highest number of votes, he shall continue in office. The said method of removal shall be cumulative and additional to the methods heretofore provided by law.” 1
*Quoted in Beard, Readings in American Government and Politics.
Statistics on Use of the Recall
The percentage of names necessary to make effective a recall petition varies in different cities. For example,
Twenty per cent is required in the recall of any county elective officer of any county in California by a general law passed by the legislature in 1911, and of elective officers in the municipalities of Berkeley and Palo Alto in California; Fort Worth, Texas; Denison, Texas (provision is made for the recall of the mayor only); St. Joseph, Mo.; Grand Junction, Colo.
Twenty-five per cent is required in Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, Alameda, Santa Cruz, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and Richmond, in California; Greensboro, N. C.; Austin, Palestine, in Texas; Lewiston, Idaho; Haverhill, Mass.; Gardiner, Maine; Seattle, Wash.
Thirty per cent is required in San Bernardino, Cal., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
Thirty-three and one-third per cent of the vote cast in the city for all candidates for governor at the last preceding general election is required in the Municipalities in Wisconsin.
Thirty-five per cent is required in Wilmington, N. C.; Dallas, Amarillo, and Marshall, Texas; Tulsa, Okla.
Forty per cent is required in Santa Monica and Long Beach, Cal.
Fifty-one per cent is required in Fresno, Cal.
Seventy-five per cent is required in municipalities in Illinois by a general law passed by the state legislature.
Definition and Application of Term.-A political party is a body of persons organized to support and further certain public policies and principles of government. The term is popularly applied to any body of persons organized for the above purpose, whether such persons are members of the electorate or not (as the suffragist "party," which may be composed wholly of women), but the political parties with which we are concerned are those which are made up of groups of the electorate, those which are groups of voters organized to support and further their respective policies.
Membership Voluntary.-Membership in a political party is an entirely voluntary act on the part of the voter. He is free, when qualified to exercise the suffrage, to join what party he will. He is free, if in time the principles of his party cease to represent satisfactorily his ideas, to leave one party and ally himself with another. If, again, no organized party suits his ideas, he is free to remain outside of party organization entirely, or he may try to organize a party of his own.
Political Parties are Extra-Judicial Bodies.—Not only is the individual free of restrictions in his choice of political party, but political parties themselves have occupied a peculiarly free position in respect to the law. Political parties have been considered as voluntary associations of citizens for their own purposes; the parties could make their own rules and regulations and could manage their own campaigns, all without state interference. They have been extra-legal insti
'In the United States, recent primary laws in the various commonwealths have amounted to a recognition of the existence and operation of parties.