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Recall will be on Nov. ballot

SPRINGFIELD – After November, voters might be able to oust the governor.

The power of recall will be the first state constitutional amendment on the Illinois ballot since 1998.

If approved, the recall provision would be similar to the process used in California, said state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo. He began pushing for the amendment in 2008 after abuse-of-power allegations against then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“How much damage would Bla­gojevich have done if we would have had this ability to recall an elected official?” Franks said. “I don’t think he would have been able to wreak the havoc that he did with our state.”

Aside from Blagojevich, had recall been possible, the corruption surrounding George Ryan also could have been avoided, Franks said.

“It keeps elected officials accountable not just on Election Day, but every day,” Franks said. “Four years is too long to have to wait to fix a mistake; there’s a lot of damage that can be done in that time.”

Eighteen states have the power of recall, Franks said.

For a recall to occur, a reason for it must be filed with the Secretary of State. Then, signatures equal to 15 percent of voters in the last election must be filed within 150 days.

Should a recall make it to the ballot, it requires a majority to pass. If that requirement is met, a general election would be held to vote for a new governor.

This would be done at the taxpayers’ cost, which opponents say quickly could become expensive.

Critics also are concerned that recall could be abused. Franks said recall is an extreme solution, but that there is a high threshold to meet.

“It is a very high standard,” Franks said. “This is not a frivolous remedy that can be used for minor transgressions. You really have to have a lot of support.”

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