Registrar of Voters Makes Signing Recall Petition Difficult but Not Impossible



New Orleans registered voters who have yet to sign the petition that seeks to recall Mayor LaToya Cantrell or who have already signed and want to have their names removed from the petition have until 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 28 to complete that process.

On Wednesday, February 22, handed over 10 boxes of petitions to Dr. Sandra Wilson, Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters which organizers said contained the signatures necessary to call on election on Cantrell’s future.

State law mandates an additional five days for citizens to add or subtract their names. To the surprise of the New Orleans East resident Debra Holmes – first voter who came to sign the petition on Thursday, February 23 – Dr. Wilson created guidelines to govern that signing process and failed to announce them to the public. Therefore Holmes and other voters who came to the registrar’s office that day were surprised. Holmes said she was told to submit a letter requesting to sign the petition and find a third party to witness the letter.  Holmes was given a plain sheet of paper by a member of Wilson’s staff to handwrite the request and then went into the first floor hallway to find a witness.

“There appeared to be a ‘stall tactic’ in place when I stated what I wanted,” Holmes said via text.  She also believes a leadership and operations issue exists. “Even if a protocol and process was not known by last night (Wednesday, February 22) an answer legally and operationally should have been established by this morning (Thursday, February 23) and certainly by late afternoon.”

Holmes said that one of Wilson’s staff members told her that the office did not have to time stamp nor office stamp her original letter before providing her a copy. Voters who wish to sign the petition or have their signatures removed should bring a letter with them to save time.

Recall officials say that Wilson has not been communicating with them regarding the process she is using to authenticate the signatures. Belden Batiste posted a video on Facebook that he shot from inside the registrar’s office on Friday, February 24. It showed that several of the boxes of petitions were wide open on the office’s counter. No security person was guarding the boxes.

Judge Jennifer Medley will hear arguments in the lawsuit filed by against the Registrar of Voters and Secretary of State on Monday at 10 a.m. Recallers believe that there may be as many as 50,000 citizens listed on the voter rolls in Orleans Parish who may have died, moved or otherwise be inactive. They based that number on information made available by the U.S. Postal Service. Since Civil District Court is still closed due to the recent fire, the case will be heard at Criminal District Court.

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