Recall Gascón committee to seek injunction against registrar

Recall “L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon” campaign volunteers and supporters begin to unload the boxes of signatures from the back of a moving truck so that they may be submitted to the L.A. County Registrar of Voters office in this July file photo. July 6, 2022. Courtesy photo.

By Signal staff  

The committee seeking to recall L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón announced Monday it would seek injunctive relief from the courts in pursuit of “the expanded access and additional information necessary to conduct a meaningful review” of the petition signatures invalidated by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder’s Office. 

The announcement came after a preliminary review in which the committee says its attorneys found a “substantial number of improperly invalidated signatures.” 

“The initial review of invalidated signatures demonstrates the registrar’s counting process was seriously flawed, resulting in substantial errors, the wrongful invalidation of many valid signatures, and the disenfranchisement of thousands of Los Angeles County voters,” the recall committee said in a prepared statement.  

“These extremely disturbing findings necessitate a complete and timely review of all invalidated signatures,” the statement said. “This review is currently being obstructed by the registrar’s office. The Recall DA George Gascón Committee will be filing for injunctive relief imminently and is also exploring other significant issues, such as the inaccurate and inflated number of signatures required to qualify the recall due to bloated voter rolls.”  

The committee said legal relief will be sought because, under the review conditions and restrictions currently imposed by the county, it will take more than a year to review all of the invalidated signatures. 

The Registrar-Recorder’s Office was unavailable for comment on Monday, as the offices were closed for the Indigenous People’s Day holiday. Representatives of the campaign committee opposing the recall and supporting Gascón were reached Monday, but declined comment. 

This is the second attempt to recall Gascón, who has come under fire from critics who contend his policies are soft on crime — including his pursuit of reduced sentences, elimination of sentencing enhancements and refusal to prosecute certain categories of crime. Gascón and his supporters contend these policies are necessary to fix a broken criminal justice system. 

To place a recall election on the ballot, the campaign was required to submit petition signatures from 10% of all registered L.A. County voters — 566,857 signatures. In July, the committee submitted petitions bearing approximately 717,000 signatures. In its review, the Registrar-Recorder’s Office determined that 520,050 of those signatures were valid and that the petition campaign had failed to meet the threshold. 

The recall committee’s statement said volunteer attorneys have been reviewing the invalidated signatures since Sept. 6, and have found numerous signatures that, they say, were wrongfully invalidated.  

“Clear, obvious and legitimate challenges have been identified for 39% of the invalidated signatures reviewed to date,” the committee’s statement said.  

The statement cited examples of improper invalidation including:  

• Signatures incorrectly invalidated as “printed” even when the voter’s signature on file was itself printed. 

• Signatures incorrectly invalidated as “non-matching” despite showing substantial similarities to the signatures on file. In addition, the statement said, many of the decisions to invalidate for this reason appear not to have been signed off on by multiple reviewers, as required by law. 

• Signatures incorrectly invalidated as “not registered” when, in fact, the person was a registered voter who could easily be identified in the voter database. 

• Signatures incorrectly invalidated as “duplicates” without the registrar counting at least one of the alleged duplicates as required by law. The committee also said it has observed many incomplete entries that were crossed out by the petition signer due to error, and then filled in correctly in the next entry below, only to have examiners wrongfully reject both as duplicates.  

• Signatures incorrectly invalidated as “different address” because the voters entered their “residence address” as directed by the petition, and according to the form and wording required by the registrar, instead of their “address as registered.”  

The recall committee further contends that the target number of 566,857 signatures was bloated because the county has failed to clean up its voter registration rolls.  

“According to estimates from independent and non-partisan data analysts, Los Angeles County active voter rolls were artificially inflated by at least 208,000, and as much as 515,000, when the number of signatures required for qualification of the recall was originally set,” the committee’s statement said. “Those estimates do not account for those who died out of state but are still registered in L.A. County.” 

The statement added, “The original requirement of 566,857 signatures to qualify (based on bloated voter rolls showing 5,668,569 active voters at the time) should have been set anywhere from 515,357 to 546,357. This issue alone could substantially affect the outcome of the recall given that the registrar has already identified what it deems to be 520,050 valid signatures. This does not even account for the signatures that were clearly wrongfully invalidated.” 

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