Names of Petition Signers in NOLAtoya Recall Campaign Remain Secret

Leaders of the movement to recall Mayor LaToya Cantrell won a major victory against the Times Picayune/New Orleans Advocate in Civil District Court on Wednesday, February 8 which will keep the names of signers out of public view until after the campaign is completed on February 22.

By that date organizers expect to have secured the approximately 50,000 signatures needed to call for the election which will determine Cantrell’s future. On February 22, the petitions will be turned over to New Orleans Registrar of Voters Dr. Sandra Wilson for verification and simultaneously become public documents. If for some unlikely reason the group does not gather all the signatures required, it is expected that the petitions will not be delivered to the registrar of voters. reporter Matt Sledge, the plaintiff in the case on behalf of his employer, had been requesting access to the names on the petitions since September, 2022. Recall leaders continually refused to release the names citing privacy issues. The lawsuit formally demanding access to all names, addresses and other voting information of the thousands of recall signers was filed last week and was heard by Judge Nicole D. Sheppard before a packed courtroom of recall supporters and other interested parties.  

Baton Rouge attorney Gray Sexton represented the recall campaign. Sexton was chief administrator of the state’s ethics board for 40 years.  Sexton did a masterful job of casting doubt that the plaintiff’s request should be granted at this time.

Campaign co-chair Eileen Carter expressed her joy after the court’s decision. “We Won! And I mean the community won. No names will be made public before we hand in the petition to the Registrar of Voters on February 22. Let’s finish strong!”

In its final two weeks, the campaign is waging a full-court press. Petitions can be dropped off at ten locations around New Orleans including the recall van located weekdays until 4 p.m. in a parking lot at Poydras and Loyola. Recall volunteers are canvassing in many of the city’s neighborhoods with door knockers reminding voters to bring in their petitions. The recall phone bank is actively calling voters each day. Also expect to see campaign volunteers along the parade routes with petitions in hand.

“I want to thank all the brave citizens that have already stepped up to sign the petitions despite the efforts by Mayor Cantrell to intimidate voters.  We prevailed in court. Now there’s no reason to be afraid to sign. Our campaign has momentum. Help us make history,” said campaign chair Belden Batiste.

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