Recall effort organizers consider legal options after petition’s failure

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 9:46 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Organizers of the effort to unseat Mayor LaToya Cantrell were left to ponder legal options after their petition for a recall election was deemed unsuccessful Tuesday (March 21).

Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters Sandra Wilson reported to Gov. John Bel Edwards that the threshold of 44,976 valid elector signatures was not met. Wilson said the recall organizers submitted 67,022 signatures, but that only 27,243 could be certified.

Documents from the registrar’s office show signatures were submitted in two batches: The first on the Feb. 22 deadline and the second five days later.

From the first batch, about 80 percent of the signatures were certified. From the second, only 24 of more than 32,000 signatures -- less than 1 percent -- were accepted as valid.

The second batch was turned in during a five-day grace period allowed by state law after the initial deadline day.

Recall election expert Joshua Spivak said signatures from the second batch might have been dated outside of the five-day window, a possible conflict with state law.

“Maybe a good lawyer, a good case could be made, that they had extra time,” Spivak said. “That the way that was written is a little more ambiguous. But there seems to be that this extra five-day period is just for signatures collected afterwards.”

Recall organizers released a statement saying they are “exploring all legal options.”

Fox 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti said the organizers could challenge the reading of the law, and/or seek a Writ of Mandamus requiring Wilson to show how she arrived at her final signature count.

“Obviously, they need the transparency to come from that office, to find out what it was that caused all of those other ones to be thrown out,” Raspanti said. “Because if they would have been accepted at the same rate as the first punch, they would have made the threshold.”

The future of the mayor’s pending lawsuits against recall campaign organizers and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin is unclear. Raspanti says that challenge could be moot now. One lawyer for the recall organizers told Fox 8 the team still hasn’t been served with the mayor’s suit.

The mayor’s attorneys said they intend to move forward with the case.

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