The Buzz

Recall of Brownback is possible in theory, virtually impossible in practice

Gov. Sam Brownback
Gov. Sam Brownback The Associated Press

As thousands of Kansans sign an unofficial online petition asking for the recall of Gov. Sam Brownback, some voters have asked if the state has an official process for recall of any state or local public official.

Gov. Scott Walker, you’ll remember, survived a recall vote in Wisconsin.

The answer in Kansas is yes: state law includes a recall procedure. But the standards are so high it would be virtually impossible to seek Brownback’s recall through official means.

A committee seeking a recall would have to gather lots of signatures — roughly 87,000 valid signees, or ten percent of the votes cast in the last election for governor. Once those signatures are obtained and verified, it would take another 348,000 valid signatures to actually force a recall vote.

But the recall committee also has to provide “grounds” for recall. Those grounds are quite limited: “conviction of a felony, misconduct in office or failure to perform duties prescribed by law.” Misconduct is further defined as “a violation of law by the officer that impacts the officer’s ability to perform the official duties of the office.”

Brownback doesn’t meet any of those standards. Even if he did, though, the recall committee must submit its petition to the secretary of state, who can reject it if the “facts do not support the grounds for recall.”

In this case, for example, Secretary of State Kris Kobach would review the recall petition, and could discard it if he determined it failed to provide the necessary reasons for the vote.

Which he would undoubtedly do.

The Kansas recall statute also says the officer can’t be recalled in the first 120 days of his term. Brownback was sworn in about a month ago.

Missouri, incidentally, has no procedure for recalling statewide elected officials.

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