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Sheriff recall would have to come from action of citizens

With all the talk about gun control and sheriffs not enforcing the law, I got to thinking (which is unfamiliar territory). "… Short of a recall, who is in charge of removing a sheriff for dereliction of duty? Would that be the district attorney? And do they do that on their own, or does a citizen need to make a charge?

— Dale, Phoenix

Well, Dale, a citizen has to make more than a charge; he or she has to ramrod the whole process.

The process of recalling the sheriff in Jackson County would follow the same rules as attempting to recall any other elected county official. Barring some prosecution that leads to a recall being launched by citizens, the district attorney is not involved in the process.

Jackson County's Home Rule Charter states the process succinctly as follows: "RECALL. An elective officer of the County may be recalled in the manner, and with the effect, now or hereafter prescribed by the Constitution and laws of the State."

OK, not really all that helpful. So let's move on to the Oregon Constitution, Article II, §18 (ORS 249.870). It reads, in part: "The number of active registered voters' signatures required to place a recall on the ballot is 15% of the total number of votes cast in the public officer's electoral district for all candidates for Governor at the last election at which a candidate for Governor was elected to a full term."

OK, stay with us Dale, back to the county — the Elections Division website this time — where we see that in the last gubernatorial race — the principals in that 2010 election were Gov. John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley (remember him?) — a total of 77,690 votes were cast in Jackson County.

Some quick math tells us putting the recall of the sheriff in Jackson County on the ballot, or that of any other elected county official, would require the verified signatures of 11,654 registered county voters. Once it's on the ballot, a majority of voters in the county would have to vote in favor of the recall in an election for the sheriff to be ousted.

If you want to read more about the recall process in Oregon, we say: Get a life. No, no, we meant to say, check out the Secretary of State's website, where all 46 pages of Oregon's "Recall Manual" are available at oregonvotes.org/doc/publications/recall.pdf.

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