Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

December 15, 2012

Another View: Recalls are tougher

After years of complaints, the State Legislature is finally getting around to considering changes to the state law that governs recall elections.

The Associated Press reported recently that a committee of the State House of Representatives has approved a handful of bills that would make it more difficult to recall elected officials, something The Mining Journal has long advocated. The House Redistricting and Elections Committee has approved the following:

Another proposed change calls for a challenger to compete for the office against the official up for recall, AP stated.

Although no one believes corrupt, inept or otherwise bad elected officials should be retained in office, the recall elections we've seen in this area have, it could be argued, created as many problems as they solved. They divide communities and even families, inflicting wounds that take years to heal. And very often the elected official's overall record is ignored and one specific issue - even one specific vote - is the focus.

Recall elections often draw just a small percentage of voters when compared to the election that put the official in office in the first place, giving an inordinate amount of power to a relatively small number of people. And complicating matters even further is the leeway the current law allows on recall language. Presently, the allegations and claims on a recall petition don't have to be true, even in small part, to end up on a ballot. They just need to be clearly stated.

That's just not right.

The Mining Journal will withhold its endorsement of this bill or bills until something comes before the full House for a vote. It's unclear when, or if, that will happen. But we hope it goes. Changes are badly needed in Michigan's recall law. And the work by the House Redistricting and Elections Committee seems, if nothing else, like good first steps.

The Mining Journal, Marquette

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