Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Alaska recall law middle of spectrum


August 10, 2017

Alaska’s recall process falls into the “middle ground,” according to the Alaska Supreme Court.

In a 2004 legal review written for the Alaska Division of Elections, attorney John Sedor looked at three recall cases that went before the Alaska Supreme Court.

In analyzing Alaska’s recall process, the court reviewed comments from the Alaska Constitutional Convention as well as recall processes in other states. The court discussed recall as a spectrum that ranged from “legal” on one side to “political” on the other.

Washington and Florida’s recall processes, Sedor wrote, fall on the legal side.

“Washington requires a recall petitioner to verify under oath that she or he has knowledge of the facts underlying the asserted grounds for recall and the recall charges are submitted to the court for a sufficiency review,” Sedor wrote. “At the other end of the spectrum…is recall as a political process. Under this view, there is little judicial or administrative oversight in the recall process and all doubts are ‘resolved in favor of placing the recall questions before voters.’”

On the other end of the spectrum is New Jersey where citizens can recall any elected official without grounds so long as 25 percent of registered voters sign a petition.

The Alaska Supreme Court determined Alaska’s recall process falls into the “middle ground” of the spectrum based on a number of guidelines that must be fulfilled before a recall effort can be deemed sufficient.

“One goal of the recall process is to not create ‘artificial technical hurdles’ and provide access to the recall process to a broad spectrum of Alaskans,” Sedor wrote. “At the same time, providing voters a fair summary of the recall allegations and giving ‘the office holder the opportunity to defend his conduct in a rebuttal limited to 200 words’ are equally important goals.”

-19 states allow for the recall of elected state officials.

-34 states allow for the recall of elected local officials.

-14 states do not provide for recall of any elected officials.

(Data from


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