Code of the District of Columbia

§ 1–1001.17. Recall process.

(a) The provisions of this section shall govern the recall of all elected officers of the District of Columbia except the Delegate to the Congress from the District of Columbia.

(b)(1) Any registered qualified elector or electors desiring to initiate the recall of an elected officer shall file a notice of intention to recall that officer with the Board, which contains the following information:

(A) The name and title of the elected officer sought to be recalled;

(B) A statement not to exceed 200 words in length, giving the reasons for the proposed recall;

(C) The name and address of the proposer of the recall; and

(D) An affidavit that each proposer is:

(i) A registered qualified elector in the election ward of the elected officer whose recall is sought, if that officer was elected to represent a ward;

(ii) A registered qualified elector in the District of Columbia, if the officer whose recall is sought was elected at-large; or

(iii) A registered qualified elector in the single-member district of an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner whose recall is sought.

(2) A separate notice of intention shall be filed for each officer sought to be recalled.

(c)(1) No recall proceedings shall be initiated for an elected officer during the 1st 365 days nor during the last 365 days of his term of office.

(2) The recall process for an elected officer may not be initiated within 365 days after a recall election has been determined in his or her favor.

(3) In the case of an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, no recall proceedings shall be initiated during the first 6 months or the last 6 months of the Commissioner’s term of office, nor within 6 months after a recall election has been decided in favor of the Commissioner.

(d)(1) The Board shall serve, in person or by certified mail, the notice of intention to recall to the elected officer sought to be recalled within 5 calendar days.

(2) The elected officer sought to be recalled may file with the Board, within 10 calendar days after the filing of the notice of intention to recall, a response of not more than 200 words, to the statement of the proposer of recall. If an answer is filed, the Board shall serve immediately a copy of that response to the proposer named in the notice of intention to recall.

(3) The statement contained in the notice of intention to recall and the elected officer’s response are intended solely for the information of the voters. No insufficiency in form or substance of such statement shall affect the validity of the election proceedings.

(e) Upon filing with the Board the notice of intention of recall and the elected officer’s response, the Board shall prepare and provide to the proponent an original petition form which the proposer shall formally adopt as his or her own form. The proponent shall print from the original blank petition sheets on white paper of good writing quality of the same size as the original or shall utilize the mobile application made available under § 1-1001.05(a)(19). Each recall petition sheet shall be double sided and consist of numbered lines for 20 names and signatures with residence address (street numbers), and, where applicable, the ward numbers. Each petition sheet shall have printed on it, and each mobile application shall electronically display, the following information:

(1) A warning statement that declares that only duly registered electors of the District of Columbia may sign the petition;

(2) The name of the elected officer sought to be recalled and the office which he or she holds;

(3) A statement that requests that the Board hold a recall election in a manner prescribed in §§ 1-204.111 to 1-204.115;

(4) The name and address of the proposer or proposers of the recall; and

(5) The statement of grounds for the recall and the response of the officer sought to be recalled, if any. If the officer sought to be recalled has not responded, the petition shall so state.

(f) Each petition sheet or sheets for recall shall have attached to it, at the time of submission to the Board, a statement made under penalties of perjury, in a form determined by the Board signed by the circulator of that petition which contains the following:

(1) The printed name of the circulator;

(2) The residence address of the circulator giving the street and number;

(3) That the circulator of the petition form was in the presence of each person when the appended signature was written;

(4) That according to the best information available to the circulator, each signature is the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be;

(5) That the circulator of the recall petition was a qualified petition circulator at the time of circulation; and

(6) The dates between which all the signatures to the petition were obtained.

(g) The proposer of a recall shall have 180 days or, in the case of a proposed recall of an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, 60 days, beginning on the date when the proponent of the recall formally adopts the original petition form as his or her own form pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, to circulate the recall petition and file the petition with the Board.

(h)(1) A recall petition for an elected officer from a ward shall include the valid signatures of 10 percent of the registered qualified electors of the ward from which the officer was elected. The 10 percent shall be computed from the total number of the qualified registered electors from such ward according to the latest official count of the registered qualified electors made by the Board 30 days prior to the date of initial submission to the Board of the notice of intention to recall.

(2) A recall petition for an at-large elected official shall contain the signatures of registered qualified electors in number equal to 10 percent of the registered qualified electors in the District of Columbia: Provided, that the total signatures submitted include 10 percent of the registered electors in each of 5 or more of the 8 wards. The 10 percent shall be computed from the total number of registered qualified electors from the District of Columbia according to the same procedures established in paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(3) A recall petition for an elected officer from a single-member district shall include the valid signatures of 10% of the registered qualified electors of the single-member district from which the officer was elected, except when the elected officer has missed all regularly scheduled meetings of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission of which the single-member district is a part for at least a three-month period, in which case the recall petition must only include the valid signatures of 5% of the registered qualified electors of the single-member district from which the officer was elected. The 5% or 10% shall be computed from the total number of registered qualified electors from the single-member district in accordance with the same procedures established in paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(i) Upon the submission of a recall petition by the proposer to the Board, the Board shall refuse to accept the petition upon any of the following grounds:

(1) Except in the case of a recall petition for an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, the financial disclosure statement of the proposer has not been filed pursuant to §§ 1-1163.07 and 1-1163.09;

(2) The petition is not the proper form established in subsection (e) of this section;

(3) The restrictions for initiating the recall process established in subsection (c) of this section were not observed;

(4) The time limitation established in subsection (g) of this section within which the recall petition may be circulated and submitted to the Board has expired;

(5) The petition clearly bears on its face an insufficient number of signatures to qualify for the ballot; or

(6) The petition was circulated by persons who were not qualified petition circulators at the time of circulation.

(j)(1) If the Board refuses to accept the recall petition when submitted to it, the proposer submitting such petition to the Board may appeal, within 10 days after the Board’s refusal, to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for a writ in the nature of mandamus to compel the Board to accept such recall petition. The Superior Court of the District of Columbia shall expedite the consideration of the matter. If the Superior Court of the District of Columbia determines that the petition is legal in form and apparently meets the requirements established under this section, it shall issue an order requiring the Board to accept the petition as of the date of submission.

(2) Should the Superior Court of the District of Columbia hold in favor of the proposer, it may award court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to the proposer.

(k)(1) After the acceptance of a recall petition, the Board shall certify, within 30 calendar days after such petition has been filed, whether or not the number of valid signatures on the recall petition meets the qualifying percentage and ward distribution requirements established in subsection (h) of this section and whether or not the necessary number of signatures of registered qualified electors of the District of Columbia, properly distributed by wards, appears on the petition. This certification may be made by a bona fide random and statistical sampling method. In a case in which an officer elected from a ward is sought to be recalled, if a person who signs a recall petition for that elected officer is found not to be a registered qualified elector in the ward indicated on the petition, that name and signature shall not be counted toward determining whether or not the recall measure qualifies. In a case in which an officer elected at-large is sought to be recalled, if a person who signs a recall petition for that elected officer is found to be a registered qualified elector in a ward other than what was indicated on the petition sheet, such person shall be counted from the correct ward in determining whether or not a recall measure for an at-large elected officer qualified. In a case in which an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner is sought to be recalled, if a person who signs a petition to recall that Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner is found not to be a registered qualified elector in the single-member district indicated on the petition, the person’s name and signature shall not be counted toward determining whether or not the recall measure qualifies. If the Board finds that the same person has signed a petition for the same recall measure more than once, it shall count only 1 signature of such person. Two persons representing the petitioner(s) seeking the recall and 2 persons representing the elected officer sought to be recalled may be present to observe during the counting and validating procedure.

(2) The Board shall post, within 3 calendar days after the acceptance of a recall petition, whether in the normal course or at the direction of a court, by making available for public inspection in the office of the Board, the petition for the recall measure or facsimile. Any registered qualified elector, during a 10-day period (including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, except that with respect to a petition to recall a member of an Advisory Neighborhood Commission SMD, the 10-day period shall not include Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays), beginning on the day the recall petition was posted by the Board, may challenge the validity of such petition by a written statement duly signed by the challenger and filed with the Board, specifying concisely the alleged defects in the petition. The provisions of § 1-1001.08(o)(2) shall be applicable to a challenge and the Board may establish any necessary rules and regulations consistent that concerns the process of the challenge.

(3) For the purpose of verifying a signature on any petition filed pursuant to this section, the Board shall first determine that the address on the petition is the same as the residence shown on the signer’s voter registration record. If the address is different, the signature shall not be counted as valid unless the Board’s records show that the person was registered to vote from the address listed on the petition at the time the person signed the petition.

(l) After determining that the number and validity of signatures in the recall petition meet the requirements established in this section, the Board shall certify the sufficiency of such recall petition and shall fix the date of a special election to determine whether the elected officer who is the subject of the recall shall be removed from his or her office. The Board shall conduct an election for this purpose within 114 days after the date the petition to recall has been certified as to its sufficiency. If a previously scheduled general, primary, or special election will occur between 54 and 114 days after the date the petition to recall has been certified as to its sufficiency, the Board may present the recall measure at that election. In the case of a proposed recall of an officer elected to represent a particular ward, the recall election shall be conducted only in that ward. In the case of a proposed recall of an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, the recall election shall be conducted in one of the following manners unless conducted in accordance with a previously scheduled general, primary, or special election pursuant to this subsection:

(1)(A) In the single-member district represented by the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner at the voting precinct containing the majority of the registered qualified electors; or

(B) If the voting precinct is unavailable, at an appropriate alternative site within the single-member district;

(2) By postal ballot by mailing by 1st class mail no later than 7 days prior to the date of the election an official ballot issued by the Board. The ballots shall be mailed to each qualified registered elector in the single-member district at the address at which the elector is registered, except for those persons who have made arrangements with the Board for absentee voting pursuant to § 1-1001.09(b)(2). The Board shall, pursuant to § 1-1001.05(a)(14), issue rules to implement the provisions of this paragraph. The ballots shall be printed with prepaid 1st class postage and shall be postmarked no later than midnight of the day of the election.

(3) A special election called to consider the recall of an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner shall not be considered an election for the purposes of § 1-1001.16(p).

(m) The Board shall place the recall measure on the ballot in substantially the following form:

FOR the recall of (insert the name of the elected officer and the office

held)

AGAINST the recall of (insert the name of the elected officer and the office held)

(n) Based on the results of the special election held to decide the outcome of the recall measure, the elected officer sought to be recalled shall be removed from that office: Provided, that a majority of the qualified electors voting in the recall election vote to remove him or her. The vacancy, as created by the removal, shall be filled in the same manner as other vacancies, as provided in §§ 1-204.01(b)(3) and (d), 1-204.21(c)(2), 1-309.06(d), and 1-1001.10.


(Aug. 12, 1955, 69 Stat. 704, ch. 862, § 17; as added June 7, 1979, D.C. Law 3-1, § 2(d), 25 DCR 9454; Mar. 16, 1982, D.C. Law 4-88, § 2(l), (n)-(q), (s), 29 DCR 458; Mar. 16, 1988, D.C. Law 7-92, § 3(o), 35 DCR 716; Mar. 6, 1991, D.C. Law 8-203, § 2, 37 DCR 8420; Mar. 11, 1992, D.C. Law 9-75, § 2(f), 39 DCR 310; Sept. 22, 1994, D.C. Law 10-173, § 2(h), (i), 41 DCR 5154; Apr. 18, 1996, D.C. Law 11-110, § 5(b), 43 DCR 530; Apr. 9, 1997, D.C. Law 11-255, § 6(b), 44 DCR 1271; June 27, 2000, D.C. Law 13-135, § 6, 47 DCR 2741; Feb. 4, 2010, D.C. Law 18-103, § 2(j), 56 DCR 9169; Apr. 27, 2012, D.C. Law 19-124, § 501(g)(7), 59 DCR 1862; Oct. 17, 2013, D.C. Law 20-31, § 2(d), 60 DCR 11535; Oct. 8, 2016, D.C. Law 21-160, § 1072(d), 63 DCR 10775.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 1-1321.

1973 Ed., § 1-1117.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 1-123, § 1-1001.07, § 1-1001.09, § 1-1001.11, § 1-1001.14, § 1-1021.04, and § 1-1163.11.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-135 rewrote par. (3) of subsec. (h), which formerly read:

“A recall petition for an elected officer from a single-member district shall include the valid signatures of 10% of the registered qualified electors of the single-member district from which the officer was elected. The 10% shall be computed from the total number of registered qualified electors from the single-member district in accordance with the same procedures established in paragraph (1) of this subsection.”

D.C. Law 18-103 rewrote subsec. (g), which had read as follows: “(g) The proposer of a recall shall have 180 days, or, in the case of a proposed recall of an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, 60 days, beginning on the date when the elected officer has filed with the Board his or her response to the proposer’s notice of intention to recall pursuant to subsection (d)(2) of this section, to circulate the recall petition and file such petition with the Board. If the elected officer sought to be recalled files no response to the notice of intention to recall, the time limitation shall begin on the deadline date for a response established in subsection (d)(2) of this section.”

D.C. Law 19-124, in subsec. (i)(1), substituted “§§ 1-1163.07 and 1-1163.09” for “§§ 1-1102.04 and 1-1102.06”.

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-31 substituted “was a qualified petition circulator at the time of circulation; and” for “is a registered elector of the electoral jurisdiction of the officer sought to be recalled; and” in (f)(5); and rewrote (i)(6), which read: “The petition was circulated by persons who, if the officer sought to be recalled was elected at-large, were not qualified registered electors of the District of Columbia or if the officer sought to be recalled was elected from a ward, qualified registered electors of that ward, or if the officer sought to be recalled was elected from an Advisory Neighborhood Commission SMD, qualified registered electors of that SMD.”

Cross References

Constitutional convention, assembly, approval or rejection of proposed constitution, election and recall of representatives elected to Congress, see § 1-123.

Political committees, statements of organization, required disclosures, see § 1-1102.04.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(j) of Omnibus Election Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-236, November 30, 2009, 56 DCR 9154).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 401(g)(7) of Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-298, January 29, 2012, 59 DCR 683).

For temporary amendment of (i)(6), see § 2(c) of the Board of Elections Petition Circulation Requirements Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-587, January 7, 2013, 60 DCR 977).