In 1908 the people of the states of Michigan and Oregon added a new initiative to the ballot. This initiative, if passed, would allow the people of these states to recall certain elected officials if the people believed that the deeds of the office holder warranted such action. The initiatives passed. Today, eighteen states allow for the recall of some or all of their elected officials. The process of recall varies from state to state with seven of the states requiring specific grounds for the action. However, in the majority of the states all that is required is a petition, signed by the voting populace. While this may sound like a simple task, it is not. Due to the massive population growth in our nation, rules that require anywhere from 12 to 25% of voters, either total or those cast in the previous election, typically equals hundreds of thousands of signatures. Because of this, very few recall efforts have ever made it to the ballot and even fewer of these have ever passed. In fact, the only governor to have ever been successfully recalled is Lynn J. Frasier of North Dakota, who was recalled in 1921. That is until the California Recall Election.
On October 8, 2003, the people of California, in a landslide decision, voted to recall Governor Gray Davis. Gray Davis was elected governor of California in a landslide election in 1998. Since then, his leadership in office has been put to the test by a major energy crisis, a growing budget deficit, sky-rocketing workers compensation costs, the loss of thousands of jobs to other states and a decline in the quality of education. This coupled with the signing of a bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain state drivers licenses and the almost tripling of the car tax finally led the people of California to say enough. .
Gray Davis, although reelected to office in November 2002, became the subject of a California's 32nd attempt to recall its governor.