The political recall was created as a tool to remove corrupt political officials from office. Los Angeles was the first major city to institute the recall in 1903, and the first to remove corrupt mayor A.C. Harper six years later. Beginning in the 1970s, usage of the recall began to transform into a tool used by political parties to remove officials from office simply because their candidate did not win the election. Between 1971 and 2004, more state officials were removed than in the previous 63 years of statewide recall existence.
That’s History looks at the transformation of the recall and discusses the effect this could have on politics in the future. The Historical Society’s collections include more than 21 million items. Please visit the library at 1300 Locust Street or search our collections online.