MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Tuesday marks day two of the Shelby County Clerk’s office being closed to catch up on a backlog of work while the county clerk Wanda Halbert vacations in Jamaica.
One county commissioner is asking what it will take to remove her from office. Halbert was elected by the people and it seems it would take a vote of the people to put her out of office.
But how would the recall process work?
According to the Shelby County Charter, county officials can be removed by a recall method provided in state election laws. But they can’t be recalled during the first 180 days or the last 180 days of the term for which they were elected.
Halbert was elected Shelby County Clerk just 20 days ago.
The charter also says county voters can circulate a petition to recall an elected official. But it must be signed by at least 15 percent of registered voters eligible to vote for the office being recalled.
Tennessee Code says any recall petition must be certified by the county election commission and must be filed at least 90 days before a general municipal or county election may be held.
Shelby County Election Administrator Linda Phillips told us by phone a successful recall election is very rare simply because of the number of signatures required.
“15% of signatures, that would be roughly…I mean voter registration changes every single day, but that would be they would need to get roughly 87,750 valid signatures and the problem with that is that many signatures on a petition are not valid, people have moved, they think they are registered and they aren’t,” Phillips said.
So the commission advises getting double the number of required signatures to be safe which would be more than 175,000 signatures.
But if it happens and everything is certified the election commission would turn to the county charter to set the recall election. If it’s a special election, Phillips says that could cost around $2 million.
As for the county commission’s role, they can consider a vote of no confidence in Halbert since no laws have been broken. They can also ask the state to step in and take action which they have done.