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Is a Recall Election a General Election?

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Reviewed Date: June 11, 2021


Original Author: 
Hemsley, Sid
Date of Material: 
Oct 9, 2006

Elections--Laws and regulations--Tennessee

Is a Recall Election a General Election?

MTAS was asked whether a recall election is a general election.

October 9, 2006 (updated October 2017)

Dear Sir:

You have the following question: Is a recall election a “general election,” within the meaning of Tennessee’s Election Code?

If the Tennessee Attorney General’s opinions on that question are correct, the answer appears to be no, although a recall election might be held on the date of a general election. I point you to Tennessee Attorney General’s Opinions 82-223, 98-172 and 03-109, which I have attached. However, it is only OAG 82-223 that makes it clear that a referendum is not a general election.

In OAG 03-109 one of the questions was when a referendum or initiative could be placed on the ballot. That opinion pointed to Tennessee Code Annotated, § 2-5- 151, which provides that:

(A) any governmental entity having a charter provision for a petition for recall, referendum or initiative or any person acting pursuant to such charter provision shall meet the requirements of this section.
(f)(2) In addition, a petition for recall, referendum or initiative shall be filed at least ninety (90) days before a general municipal or county election may be held on the question contained in such petition. The question contained in a petition filed less than ninety (90) days before an upcoming general municipal or county election will be placed on the ballot of the following general municipal or county election.

That statute itself does appear to distinguish between recall elections and general elections, but provides that the former can be held in conjunction with a general city or county election.

Let me know what you think.


Sidney D. Hemsley
Senior Law Consultant


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