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Recall bill law unlikely to be passed, used

While holding New York's elected officials to the possibility of a recall might be a way to prevent the political jockeying that resulted in a month long stalemate in the state Senate, experts say that it's unlikely such a measure will ever be adopted.

Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, announced on Saturday, July 11, that he would introduce a recall bill that would allow voters to petition for the removal of statewide officers and state legislators.

In a statement, Tedisco singled out Democrat Senator Pedro Espada, who crossed the aisle with Hiram Monserrate in June to give Republicans the majority in the Senate. Monserrate rejoined Democrats days later while Espada remained, causing a stalemate that badly tangled state government before he returned to the Democratic Caucus on July 9.

What Senator Pedro Espada has done, aided and abetted by many of his colleagues, is nothing less than an outright mugging of our democratic process and those who should and still can be the most powerful voices in our government, said Tedisco.

Calls made to Espada's office were not returned.

The proposed law would require 50,000 signatures for the recall of any statewide office, and 10 percent of the electorate or 5,000 signatures, whichever is lesser, for the recall of a state legislator. A vote would ensue 90 days from when the Board of Elections certified the recall.

Recall legislation is not unusual nationwide, according to SUNY Albany Professor of political science Joe Zimmerman, who is also the author of "The Recall: Tribunal of the People" and does regular research into recall trends.

"At the state level, there are 18 states that have constitutional provisions authorizing the recall," said Zimmerman, who added that numerous local government charters and laws provide for the recall.

Despite being available in many places, he continued, its use is rare. The most famous example is the 2003 gubernatorial recall in California in which Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Gray Davis.

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