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Effort to recall Governor Snyder continues to face uphill battle

Protesters in Lansing calling for a recall of Governor Rick Snyder.
Protesters in Lansing calling for a recall of Governor Rick Snyder.

It's never been done before - a successful statewide recall of a sitting governor in Michigan.

To put a statewide recall on a ballot, 1 in 7 registered voters in Michigan would have to sign a petition.

It's a daunting task and, as we've been reporting here at Michigan Radio, the Committee to recall Governor Rick Snyder did not collect enough signatures to get a recall on the November ballot.

It's something political commentator Jack Lessenberry called "impossible" last April.

I called up Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, to talk about the challenging logistics of a statewide recall effort and about what the Committee to Recall Rick Snyder is doing now.

You can listen to our conversation here:


The committee essentially needs around 807,000 valid signatures within a 90-day period to get on a ballot.

The committee collected around 310,00 signatures for the months of May, June, and July - short of the target for the November ballot.

So now the committee is rolling the goal posts forward.

They're dropping the signatures they collected for the months of May and June (around 10,000 signatures) and hoping to collect the required number of signatures for July, August, and September.

July was their strongest month. They collected around 300,000 signatures last month. If they collect another 600,000 to 700,000 signatures by the end of September, they could put the recall language on the February ballot.

Pluta says as a practical matter, the committee really needs around 1 million signatures (because many signatures will be tossed out as invalid).

"We've got about 7 million registered voters in Michigan. That means 1 in 7 registered voters has to sign a petition. That's a lot of people. A good petition drive, if it's really humming, will typically collect 3,000 or 4,000  signatures a week. And they've got to hit somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 signatures in a week to succeed."

If they are able to get the signatures, and the recall language is put on the February ballot, then "the fun is just beginning" according to Pluta.

The February ballot will almost certainly be the Republican Presidential Primary, and that will draw out a lot of Republicans, which would work against the recall of a republican governor, or any other republican who might wind up on the recall ballot.

Pluta says on the other hand, it could create an incentive for Democrats and liberals to get out and vote - and these voters could cast their votes in the Republican primary - affecting the outcome of that election.

Pluta says recall campaigns in the past have just kept going, continuing to roll the calendar forward and hoping that they can collect enough signatures in a certain 90-day period. And as Pluta reminds us, a statewide recall campaign has never been successful in Michigan.


Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
Zoe Clark is Michigan Public's Political Director. In this role, Clark guides coverage of the state Capitol, elections, and policy debates.
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