Measure would give South Carolina voters power to remove elected officials who are not following the will of the people.
Today in the S.C. House, Rep. Bill Sandifer has introduced legislation and a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow South Carolinians to hold all elected officials accountable during their terms in office.
The bill (H.4245) and proposed constitutional amendment (H.4244) would enable voters to initiate a recall when they believe an elected official is not representing the views of his or her constituents or is acting in a way that is harmful to the state. A recall is defined as a process whereby voters can remove an elected official before a term officially ends.
“The public wants and deserves accountability,” explains Sandifer who says he decided to move forward with the recall legislation based on input from concerned constituents. Currently South Carolina provides no recourse for citizens who want to remove an elected official during his or her term in office.
The bill includes several important provisions:
It applies to any publicly elected official including but not limited to those serving in the executive or legislative branch of state government, at the county or local level, on a school board, or in a special purpose district.
A recall petition must be filed with and approved by the appropriate election commission. It must clearly state the reason for the recall, which must be based upon conduct during a public official’s current term in office.
Once filed and approved, the petition must be signed by registered voters in the electoral district of the recalled official. The number of signatures must equal 25% of the number of votes cast for the office of the governor in the most recent general election. Signatures must be collected within 90 days.
If the required signatures are collected and verified by the election commission, then a special election would be held. The recalled official must be publicly elected again to continue serving.
A petition for recall cannot be filed against an official during his or her first six months or last six months of the current term. Once a recall election has been held, no additional recall petitions can be filed against an official for a two-year period.
“Voters trust elected officials to run this state for the good of the people,” Sandifer says. “Sadly, there are some folks who promise one thing on the campaign trail and then don’t deliver on that promise. I believe we have to have some sort of mechanism for recall, a way for the electorate to take leaders out of office when they fail to do what they say they’ll do.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states already have provisions in place for the recall of statewide, legislative, and local officials. Three similar bills dealing with recall and petition have been introduced and are being debated in the South Carolina Senate. If bills do pass the House and Senate, the proposed constitutional amendment allowing for recalls would be placed on the ballot in a future election where it ultimately would be decided by South Carolina voters.
“This bill is vitally important because it’s about shifting the balance of power from politicians to the people,” Sandifer says. “This is another tool we want to give South Carolinians to make sure government is working the way they want it to work.”