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Recall Elections: A Brief History

Introduction:

Recall elections have been a part of local and state political system in the United States since colonial times. On September 14, 2021, California voters held one such election and voted on whether or not to remove Governor Gavin Newsom from office. In this eLesson, students will explore the history of recalls and also read a primary source document to better understand their purpose.

 

Materials:

Handout A: The California Constitution (Article II: Voting, Initiative and Referendum, and Recall)

Handout B: What is the History of the Recall Election?

 

Instructions:

Have students read Sections 1, 13, 14, and 15 of Handout A: The California Constitution (Article II: Voting, Initiative and Referendum, and Recall) and answer the following questions. Then, have students read Handout B: What is the History of the Recall Election? and answer the remaining questions.

 

Handout A Comprehension and Analysis Questions:

  1. In your own words, define a recall election.
  2. Based on your understanding of Section 1, why do you think California allows for recall elections?
  3. Consider the recall system that California has in place. Do you think it is too easy or too hard to initiate a recall? Or does it appear to be a good system? Explain your answer.

 

Handout B Comprehension and Analysis Questions:

  1. Why do you think the recall became more popular after the American Revolution?
  2. Explain in your own words why Hamilton opposed recall elections.
  3. Do you believe recall elections to be an important feature in a democratic system, or do they cause too much instability? Explain.

 

Extension:

Think the Vote is a platform where students can express their opinions on current event topics and compete to win prizes! This week, we want to hear their opinions on the question: Should State Governments Have Recall Elections?