Florida Statute 100.361 covers the process for recalling elected officials on the city and county level. This involves two rounds of signatures representing 5% and 15% of voters registered in the county. Duval County has 622,651 registered voters, meaning the petition would need 31,112 and 93,337 signatures respectively. To summarize the process:
- The mayor must be in office for 25% of their term. Assuming this means the current term, the date would be July 1, 2020.
- The group pursuing recall must get an official petition approved. This petition must include the official’s name and a summary of the issue not exceeding 200 words. The petition must cite one of seven specific grounds for recall: malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, and conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude.
- Within 30 days, the petition must be signed by 5% of the electors.
- The signatures must be provided to “the auditor or clerk of the municipality or charter county, or his or her equivalent.” The clerk presents the petition to the Supervisor of Elections, who has 30 days to verify the signatures. The filing parties must pay for the signatures to be validated at a rate of 10 cents a signature or the actual cost of verification, whichever is less. At 31,112 signatures, this would cost $3,111.20.
- If the signatures are valid, the Supervisor of Elections presents the finding to the clerk, who in turn serves the petition to the official subject to recall.
- The official has 5 days to respond with a statement in their defense.
- The filing parties must distribute the “Recall Petition and Defense” for another round of signatures. Within 60 days, the petition must get the signatures of 15% of registered voters, or 93,337 people.
- The second round of signatures must be returned to the clerk and verified by the Supervisor of Elections.
- If the signatures are verified and the petition is approved, the official has 5 days to resign. If the official steps down, the office is temporarily filled according to the order of succession (see below).
- If the official does not resign, a recall election or special election is held between 30 and 60 days later.
- If the official is recalled, the position is temporarily filled.
- Between 30 and 60 days later, the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court calls a special election to permanently fill the office.
Charter of the City of Jacksonville
The Charter Laws of the Charter of the City of Jacksonville contain a different and simpler process for removing elected officials. The threshold here is a petition with 10% of registered voters, or 62,265 verified signatures. Article 15 of Jacksonville’s charter laws cover the process:
ARTICLE 15. - REMOVAL OF OFFICERS
Section 15.01. - Recall by voters.
Any officer elected in any consolidated government or school board election may be removed from office in the following manner:
- A petition demanding an election of a successor of the elected official sought to be removed shall be filled with the supervisor of elections.
- In the petition for recall of a person elected in the city at large, there shall be included the signatures of qualified voters equal to 10 percent of the number of voters registered in that district at the time of the election of the person sought to be removed.
- In the petition for recall of a person elected in a district election, there shall be included the signatures of voters qualified to vote in that district equal to 10 percent of the number of voters registered in that district at the time of the election of the person sought to be removed.
The petition shall contain a general statement of the grounds for which the removal is sought. Copies of petitions may be executed, but one of the signers of each copy shall affirm under oath before an officer competent to administer oaths that he believes that each signature to the copy is the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be. Within 15 normal working days from the date of filing such petition, the supervisor of elections shall examine the petition and ascertain whether the petition is signed by the required number of persons and whether such persons are qualified voters as shown by the registration books. He shall attach to the petition his certificate showing the result of such examination. If the supervisor of elections determines that the petition is insufficient, it may be amended within 15 days from the date of said certificate. The supervisor of elections shall, within 15 days after such amendment, make like examination of the amended petition. If he again determines that the petition is insufficient, it shall be returned to the person filing the same, without prejudice, however, to the filing of a new petition to the same effect. If the supervisor of elections shall determine that any petition is duly executed and in proper form, he shall at once order and fix a date for holding a recall election not less than 30 days or more than 60 days from the date on which he determines the petition to be sufficient. The supervisor of elections shall make or cause to be made publication of notice of such recall election. A majority of the votes cast in such election shall be required to remove the officer. Upon such removal, a vacancy shall exist in the office.
Vacancy in the Office
If the mayor’s office becomes vacant, whether through a recall or another reason, it is temporarily filled according to the following order of succession:
- City Council President (Scott Wilson, likely to be Tommy Hazouri in July)
- City Council Vice President (Tommy Hazouri)
- Chair of the Rules Committee (Joyce Morgan)
- Chair of the Finance Committee (Aaron Bowman)
- Another acting mayor designated by City Council
The Supervisor of Elections then calls a special election to permanently fill the office between 1 and 6 months later, unless a regular mayoral election is scheduled in that time.