The Recall, Second Edition

Tribunal of the People

By Joseph F. Zimmerman

Subjects: Political Science, American Politics
Paperback : 9781438449265, 223 pages, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781438449258, 223 pages, January 2014

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. The Sovereign Citizen

2. The Legal Foundation

3. Recall of State Government Officers

4. Recall of Local Government Officers

5. The Recall: An Evaluation

6. A Model for Voter Sovereignty


In-depth study of the recall, the most important popular device allowing voters to remove unresponsive elected officials from office.


The recall, or "election in reverse," is meant to allow voters to remove an elected official from office prior to the completion of his/her term in office. In this revised second edition of The Recall, Joseph F. Zimmerman examines the rise of the recall in the United States and its use by American voters. Proponents of the recall believe the threat of removal from office would ensure that elected officials would act in accord with the public's will, while opponents fear their use would disrupt and inhibit public officers in the performance of their duties. Zimmerman provides a detailed analysis of how the recall has functioned in practice and discovers that the recall has seldom been employed against elected state officials. Although used more often against local government officials, the rate is still not exceptionally high when one considers the extremely large number of elected officials. After a century of use in the United States, the recall has not produced a new era of public official responsibility as hoped for by proponents, but neither has it caused extensive disruption of state and local governments, the original concern of early opponents.

Joseph F. Zimmerman is Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, State University of New York. His many books include State-Local Governmental Interactions; Interstate Cooperation, Second Edition: Compacts and Administrative Agreements; and Interstate Water Compacts: Intergovernmental Efforts to Manage America's Water Resources, all published by SUNY Press.