Recall Campaign Regroups As Quest for More Accountability Continues


The campaign to recall Mayor LaToya Cantrell is a newly-christened ship navigating uncharted waters.  Campaign leaders knew they could harness the raw unrest and concerns about crime felt by so many citizens across all neighborhoods. Thousands of eager participants unafraid of potential backlash from the Cantrell administration lined up to fill out the petitions correctly, grab a witness and return the documents in a timely fashion. Direct mail helped organizers gather the 67,000 signatures that were ultimately submitted. Since the rolls in Orleans Parish contain so many inactive voters who should have long since been removed, it should not come as a surprise that a few petitions were signed by deceased individuals. Mail theft, a recurring problem in every major city, ALSO could have impacted the number of petitions that were returned by the post office.

Yet the biggest obstacle the recall campaign faced was the motivation, mindset and mode of operandi of Registrar of Voters Dr. Sandra Wilson. Although some rules regarding the recall process are written into the state’s Election Code, the laws gave Wilson a wide berth on interpretation. The recall campaign was not her friend. Therefore Wilson had little motivation to give them any breaks. 

Each Election Day, Wilson is involved in the counting of mail-in ballots. The process involves multiple trained eyes and is open to the public. Whenever after a tight election a recount is requested, representatives from each side are invited to watch the process. No doubt the recall campaign would like to review every petition that Wilson determined was not valid.  It’s highly possible that the recall’s demographers could identify a majority of the signatures Wilson and her staff were unable to read.

Wilson was smart to deliver all the petitions – and not just the total count – to Governor John Bel Edwards. Now the recall forces and their attorneys will have to litigate to view Wilson’s internal record keeping. The question still lingers regarding how many inactive voters should be removed from the parish’s rolls due to death or relocation. Don’t expect that issue to fade into the sunset. Finally, expect new legislation to be introduced that will more clearly define the entire recall process. 

The recall campaign is hardly over. It’s just moving to a new phase. Said co-chair Eileen Carter in a Facebook post Tuesday, March 21, “First and foremost we want to thank all of the brave citizens of Orleans Parish who signed the recall petition, volunteered their time, and supported this effort in countless ways. Throughout this process we have been met with countless obstacles and we have persevered nonetheless.   

We could never have known that the moment the petition was filed in August, the recall was doomed due to massive inaccuracies with the Registrar of Voters for Orleans Parish. Additionally, the way the law is written now, the recall was required to get more signatures than votes Mayor Cantrell was required to get to be elected to office. 

During the process, The Advocate stifled the effort by demanding the release of the names of the people who signed and then attempted to embarrass elected officials who had the courage to sign. The efforts of the recall have only just begun. We are exploring all legal options at this time. We will also move forward with legislation to correct the injustices that we were met with along this process. We will continue to demand accountability from our elected officials. We will continue to fight for the city that we love.”    

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