Editorial: Recall the governor? Opponents risk setting dangerous precedent

Gov. Jared Polis and two state legislators face a disturbing possibility this November. If opponents succeed in gathering enough petition signatures, the trio could face special recall elections.

Efforts are being made to recall Polis, Sen. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs and Sen. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood. In Polis’ case, recall proponents face an especially tough road ahead: They must submit 631,266 valid signatures by the end of business, Sept. 6.

It’s not that recalls are inherently bad. They are a useful tool for voters to exercise in the event of malfeasance, providing a way to remove elected officials before their normal term expires.

But recalls should not be used to punish elected officials for enacting policies with which some constituents disagree.

There’s a wholly different process for such actions: regular elections. Voters brought Polis, Lee, Pettersen and dozens of other candidates to state office. Each should be allowed — barring the aforementioned malfeasance — to serve out their terms and face voters once again.

Beyond the enormous cost of recall elections, such a move would set a dangerous precedent for Colorado’s electoral process. Why not initiate a recall of any elected official with whom you disagree? Better yet, why not launch a recall effort on the day he or she takes office to minimize any damage they might cause?

It’s absurd. It’s a waste of time and energy. And it attempts to subvert the will of the voters who put the candidate in office in the first place. (Polis defeated former state treasurer Walker Stapleton by 10 percentage points last November.)

Voters knew what they were getting with Polis and with every state elected official. No one hid their positions from the public.

Opponents of Polis cite his support for reforms to the state’s oil and gas laws, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and for stricter gun-control laws as reasons to remove him.

But here’s an idea: If you disagree with the governor or other elected officials and the policies they are implementing, how about working to convince voters to go a different route next time? How about finding compelling candidates who will support the policies you favor? How about stopping this waste of time and money?

And if you’re approached by a canvasser asking you to sign a recall petition for reasons other than malfeasance, how about telling him or her to take a hike?

Democracy demands nothing less.