A proposal to recall Gov. Brad Little over his response to the coronavirus pandemic will not be on the November ballot.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the deadline to file, the petition hadn’t been turned in to the Secretary of State’s office, said Deputy Secretary of State Jason Hancock.
“Since no one from the campaign to recall Gov. Little appeared at the office today to file their recall petition, there will be no recall vote on Gov. Little on the November 2020 ballot,” Hancock said.
Organizers posted on Facebook that they had gathered a little more than 18,000 signatures. They needed about 183,500 to get on the ballot. If it had gotten on the ballot, a majority of at least 361,661 votes, or the number of people who voted for Little in 2018, would have needed to vote for the recall to remove Little from office.
In hopes of limiting the spread of coronavirus, Little issued a stay-home order that directed many businesses to close in late March and later extended it through the end of April. He has since been relaxing the state-level restrictions in stages, although as cases continue to increase some local public health districts have issued mask orders or restricted large gatherings.
The restrictions provoked a backlash among many of Little’s fellow Republicans, particularly in the further-right wing of his party, who said it damaged the economy and infringed on individual freedom. This led a group of North Idaho women to start the petition drive a couple of months ago, saying on their website Little had “abused the trust of the citizens of Idaho by willfully ignoring our grievances and turning a deaf ear to our representatives. Governor Little’s unilateral actions have irrevocably damaged our financial stability, cherished freedoms and trust in our system of government.”
Some lawmakers have called on Little to hold a special session or have said they intend to take up legislation in 2021 to restrict the governor’s emergency powers, including a possible constitutional amendment that would let the Legislature call itself into special session. Under most circumstances, only the governor can call one now.
Little has said he intends to call a special session starting on Aug. 24 to discuss some coronavirus-related issues, but there is no indication he will propose the special session consider the sort of limits on his own authority and increase in the Legislature’s power some of his critics would like to see.