The opponents of L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón announced Wednesday that they had submitted their petition supporting the recall of the county’s top prosecutor.
Although getting the potential referendum on the ballot only required 566,857 signatures — the number representing 10% of the total number of L.A. County voters — the petitioners reported on Wednesday to have dropped off their petition with an accompanying 717,000 signatures.
The extra signatures, recall campaign officials said, were collected in order to ensure they exceeded the total number of signatures even after a number of them are invalidated during the L.A. County Registrar of Voters official count.
Gascón’s supporters at the anti-recall campaign told The Signal on Wednesday that they would refrain on commenting on the petition, waiting to see whether the required number of signatures are actually validated.
“This will likely take several weeks,” said Elise Moore, a spokeswoman for the pro-Gascón campaign. “In the meantime, we remain focused on the work of keeping communities safe and creating a more equitable justice system, as we have been since day one.”
In a statement distributed after they had unloaded a petition-filled moving truck at the Registrar’s Norwalk office on Wednesday, recall campaign organizers stated that even reaching this point, with what they believe is an adequate number of signatures, spoke in a “resounding way” to Angelenos’ displeasure with the current district attorney.
“We believe that George Gascón’s policies and refusal to enforce the law has cost the residents of Los Angeles an extraordinary amount, not just financially and in terms of quality of life…but also with the cost of human life, which you really can’t put a dollar on,” said Tim Lineberger, a spokesman for the recall campaign. “For the sheer sake of public safety alone, this is not only a worthwhile effort, but it’s a necessary one.”
Since he assumed office in December 2020, Gascón’s detractors have said that his policies — from the widespread curtailing of the cash bail system, to heavily restricting the use of sentencing enhancements, to the near eradication of life sentences in L.A. County cases — have allowed criminals, especially repeat offenders, to create more victims with fewer consequences.
For instance, the Santa Clarita City Council made the unprecedented decision to unanimously approve a vote of no confidence in the L.A. County district attorney — the first action of its type in the city’s 34-year history — after citing, among other things, a report from The Signal stating that the district attorney declined to prosecute 63% of all cases presented to his office by the SCV Sheriff’s Station during his first year in office.
“This has been a long 18-month journey. Thirty-seven cities, 98% of the (deputy district attorneys, or) DDAs and now 717,000 Angelenos have now said, ‘Enough is enough. George, it’s time for you to go,’” Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, a longtime resident of Santa Clarita and critic of Gascón, said on Wednesday. “We all came together to fight for public safety and victims’ rights. Today, we are a little closer to taking our city and county back.”
The D.A.’s supporters have countered these arguments by stating that the district attorney is attempting to fix a judicial system that has been historically based on draconian and prejudicial processes, resulting often in inequity for minorities and a disregard for addressing the root causes of criminal behavior.
For example, when asked by The Signal about the 2021 SCV numbers, a D.A.’s Office spokesman said that a large number of those rejected local cases were addiction-related crimes, and that Gascón had campaigned on seeking reformative practices as opposed to punitive ones for those suffering from substance-abuse-related issues.
Recall organizers said they spent the last few weeks, and especially Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, at their campaign headquarters, tallying signatures and compiling them in a way that would make them all acceptable to submit by the July 6 deadline for the petition.
“We had recall supporters and volunteers, victims and members of law enforcement — including members from the District Attorney’s Office themselves — who are just out today to support the effort,” said Lineberger. “I know everybody was just excited to see all their hard work come to fruition, but at the same time it’s bittersweet, because we shouldn’t have to be doing this in the first place.”
According to county officials, the signature validation process has up to 30 working days to be completed, and its timeline will be determined by whether they use a 5% sample batch of the total signatures, or they decide to go through the process of validating all 717,000 individually.
Those in charge of the process will base a signature’s validity on a number of factors, including but not limited to: ensuring the signature is from a registered voter, that their signed address is the same as the one on their voter registration, and that the registered voter did not sign the petition more than once, among other criteria.
If the petition is ultimately verified, government officials will have then need to determine when the referendum will appear on the ballot for L.A. County voters, whether it be in the upcoming November General Election or voted on during a special election held on a separate date.