The bar for a recall election should be reasonably high, but the Midland City Charter requires the violation of constitutional rights. It violates the secret ballot by requiring petition signers to reveal their choice at the ballot box.
Article VI of the Midland City Charter states:
This means that the recall petition must have been signed by 20% of qualified voters in the City of Midland and half of those signatures must belong to people who signed an affidavit stating they voted for the person who is being recalled. There are several problems with these requirements, the most egregious being the violation of civil rights.
First of all, American citizens have the right to a secret ballot. These voters should not have to reveal their choice at the ballot box. If a mayor or city council member’s offenses have risen to the level of recall in the eyes of the citizens, why do the signatures, and therefore voices, of the people who voted for the offending individual get to carry more weight?
For example, in November of 2019 Midland elected two city council members, one of which was in District 4. At the time there were 18,417 eligible voters in the district. Therefore, a recall petition would require 3,683 signatures and 1,842 of those voters must have signed affidavits that they voted for the victor. That candidate may have won 56% of the vote, but only 15% of the electorate cast a vote for her. That leaves 85% of Midland with only half a voice because the 15% have the other half by statute.
Second, this statue results in one individual’s vote carrying more weight and necessarily power. This is true of ballots cast by citizens for the target of a recall effort compared to citizen’s cast ballots and Midlanders who may not have voted but are negatively impacted to the degree that they would sign a recall petition.
The Midland recall process is not only unconstitutional, but it is virtually insurmountable. It is merely an illusion of safeguarding the public trust. It may as well not be there at all. That would at least be a more honest and transparent approach. Citizens of Midland should demand more from their representatives.