Second recall effort of L.A. County district attorney fails

George Gascón. Photo courtesy of the District Attorney's Office.
George Gascón. Photo courtesy of the District Attorney's Office.

The second recall effort against L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón was reportedly found “insufficient,” meaning that not enough signatures on the recall petition were validated to necessitate a future ballot vote.  

According to a statement released by the L.A. County Registrar of Voters on Monday, officials say the total number of verified signatures fell short of the required 566,857 signatures to get the special election on the ballot.  

“Based on the examination and verification, which was conducted in compliance with the statutory and regulatory requirements of the California Government Code, Elections Code, and Code of Regulations, 520,050 signatures were found to be valid and 195,783 were found to be invalid,” read a statement from the Registrar’s Office. “To qualify the recall for the ballot, the petition required 566,857 valid signatures; therefore, the petition has failed to meet the sufficiency requirements and no further action shall be taken on the petition.”   

Since the signatures were submitted on July 6, the staff at the L.A. County Registrar’s Office had been combing through the various signatures compiled in the recall petition, working to validate each one of the approximate 717,000 signatures based on a number of factors that include, but are 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.  

The largest category of invalid signatures, coming in at a total of 88,464, was for those who signed but returned as “not registered.” According to Mike Sanchez, a spokesman for the L.A. County Registrar’s Office, that category of invalidated signatures is for those who names were checked against a database of voters in L.A. County, but the results did not return anything on that particular person’s name.    

“We are obviously glad to move forward from this attempted political power grab, but we also understand that there is far more work that needs to be done,” said Elise Moore, a spokeswoman for the pro-Gascón campaign. “And we remain strongly committed to that work.” 

“The DA’s primary focus is and has always been keeping us safe and creating a more equitable justice system for all,” Moore added. “Today’s announcement does not change that.”  

In a statement of their own, the recall campaign officials said they have 21 days to review the count.  However, they’ve asked the registrar about specifics of that process preemptively and have yet to receive a response. 

“While the initial results are surprising and disappointing, the recall committee intends to exercise its full statutory and legal authority to review the rejected signatures and verification process that took place, and will ultimately seek to ensure no voter was disenfranchised,” said recall campaign officials in a statement sent to The Signal on Monday.  

The announcement of the verified signatures comes a little over a week after former District Attorney Steve Cooley wrote a letter to the county Board of Supervisors stating that in the Nov. 6, 2018, general election, the Registrar-Recorder had a 2% rejection of vote by-mail ballots, and that number had dropped to 0.354% by the November 2020 election. However, in the random sampling for the recall petition for Gascón, the Registrar-Recorder’s office had a reported 22% rejection rate.  

Cooley went on to allude to this being a form of “voter disenfranchisement” and demanded more transparency by allowing observers to see how the signatures were being validated.   

However, while supporters of the recall contended they had a right to observe the process under the California Voter Bill of Rights, officials in the Registrar’s Office argued that L.A. County’s Election Observer Program pertains specifically to elections and not recall attempts, and therefore the closed-door count was allowed to continue.   

Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, a Santa Clarita resident and longtime critic of Gascón, said that he was saddened and disappointed about Monday’s news, adding that “L.A. County cannot afford another two years of George Gascón’s dangerous policies.”  

“The lives of so many innocent residents are at risk,” Hatami said. “So, we all must come together to help and stand up for one another until George is gone.” 

The Registrar’s Office had until Aug. 17 to determine whether the petition had enough signatures to cause a special election against Gascón.  

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