If California can recall a gov. can the country recall a president?

I have never heard of a “gubernatorial recall” before this year, and it sounds like a pretty simple process - apparently all you need is enough signatures to call for a special election. It seems voter discontent is all that is required.

The governor gets put on the ballot and the question to recall him is on the first page. If you say “no” to the question to recall him, then that’s a vote for him. If you say “yes” you get to vote for a replacement listed on the following pages. If more than 50% of voters vote to replace him he’s out.

Is it possible to do the same thing for the president? This is a factual question, not an opinion. I hope someone knowledgeable in the political process can answer this one.

Also, can the people in any state institute a recall election?

No, there is no Constitutional process for recalling a President. The only way to force a President out of office is impeachment and conviction.

Recall elections at the state level are matters for the particular state’s Constitution and statutes to address. Not all states allow recalls, and the process is different in every case.

Specifically, Sections 13-19 of Article 2 of the Constitution of the State of California define a recall and discuss the procedures for its implementation: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_2

No similar provision exists in the U.S. Constitution and, as friedo notes, whether the recall power exists in other states is a matter of internal state law; such recalls would be administered according to the law of the state in question and would differ from the California procedure in various particulars.

For instance, North Dakota, the only other state which has recalled a governor, requires that the recall petition be signed by a number of people equal to 25% of those who voted in the previous election (N.D. Const., Art. III, Sec. 10) whereas California requires only 12% – these must be spread out over at least five counties, however; North Dakota has no similar geographical distribution requirement.

Of course it’s possible to add a recall provision to the U.S. Constitution through the standard amendment procedure set out in Article V thereof, but given the example being set today in California, it seems unlikely that such a measure would garner support anytime in the near future.


Under California law, you get to vote for a replacement even if you vote to keep the sitting governor in office. It’s essentially two elections held at the same time. This way you still get a voice in the second part even if the majority disagrees with you in the first part.