Recall Gascón Campaign Says County Failed to Follow Signature Verification Guidelines

Recall Gascón Campaign Says County Failed to Follow Signature Verification Guidelines
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón speaks at a press conference in Los Angeles on Dec. 8, 2021. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
Jamie Joseph

A random sample of signatures collected by a campaign to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón was not counted properly by the county registrar’s office, according to recall organizers.

The county’s former district attorney Steve Cooley sent a letter on Aug. 8 to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, alleging that the registrar’s office did not follow proper guidelines when verifying signatures for the campaign during the random sampling last month.

The accusations came just a little over a month after the campaign submitted nearly 716,000 signatures to the registrar’s office on July 6 to be validated.

In a random sampling of about 5 percent, or 35,793, of the signatures, the clerk validated about 27,983, which was less than 31,179, the minimum for the recall petition to be automatically validated without full verification.

The recall needs at least 566,857 validated signatures of registered voters to get on the November ballot. Now, the office is examining every single signature and must complete the process within 30 days after the signatures were submitted.

One of the guidelines, Cooley said, is ensuring that voters’ signatures on the recall petitions match their signatures on file with the registrar’s office.

He said the recall campaign has “strong evidence” to believe the office didn’t follow state guidelines during the random sampling because of “the shockingly large rejection rate,” which was around 22 percent. In the general election in November 2018, the rejection rate of vote-by-mail ballots for non-matching signatures was 2 percent, he said.

Then-Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley speaks during a news conference on Sept. 21, 2010. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Then-Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley speaks during a news conference on Sept. 21, 2010. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The campaign has asked the office to find out which rejected signatures were verified to be non-matching, according to Cooley.

Under California law, he said, it is presumed that signatures on election petitions and ballots are matching and valid unless there is a “reasonable doubt” to believe otherwise.

He said he spoke to a registrar manager responsible for conducting both random sampling and full examination and discovered they were using outdated training materials from 2017 for signature verification.

Additionally, he said the public records provided by the office did not indicate whether it implemented any quality control measures—like hiring observers—to eliminate bias or corruption during sampling.

“Quality control measures are vital in the petition review process,” Cooley said in the letter. “Every signature represents a voter who supports the removal of District Attorney George Gascón. If this is in fact the case, this failure alone could have a significant impact on whether the petition is certified in today’s divisive political climate.”

According to Dean Logan, who oversees the county elections office, the verification process is “highly regulated” and follows state guidelines and regulations.

“Once the process is complete and a determination on sufficiency is made, those same regulations provide the proponents the opportunity for review, if desired,” Logan told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement. “Right now our focus is on completing the verification within the legal timelines with integrity and appropriate quality review.”

Gascón, elected in December 2020 on a promise to provide bold criminal justice reform, has come under fire from opponents who say his policies have only created room for more criminal activities.

Some of his policies include no longer charging minors as adults, eliminating many sentencing enhancements such as firearms, ending the death penalty, and eliminating cash bail for misdemeanors or nonviolent felony crimes.

This is the second recall attempt against Gascón in the last two years. He was previously the district attorney of San Francisco before Chesa Boudin, who was recalled during the June 2022 primary election.

Jamie is a California-based reporter covering issues in Los Angeles and state policies for The Epoch Times. In her free time, she enjoys reading nonfiction and thrillers, going to the beach, studying Christian theology, and writing poetry. You can always find Jamie writing breaking news with a cup of tea in hand.
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