NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — After Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced that NOLATOYA, an effort to recall New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell from office, fell short of its required signature count, recall organizers have turned to the Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters, saying something doesn’t add up.
In a press conference Thursday (March 22), organizers Eileen Carter and Belden Batiste spoke from the steps of City Hall responding to the supposed failed recall efforts against the mayor. Upset, the two stated that they believe the registrar was not acting fairly from the beginning when boxes of documents were placed in their possession to get an overall count of signatures.
“The bottom line is Sandra [Wilson] hasn’t been fair since day one. When this started, we sent her a letter, an email, asking her for the rules, and she told us she didn’t know,” co-organizer Batiste said. “Her workers say they did know the process. So when I listened to her up there, she was not telling facts, she was not telling the truth.”
Watch Full Press Conference:
Earlier on Thursday, Registrar Sandra Wilson revealed that out of the more than 30,000 signatures tossed from the recall petition due to illegitimacy, many of them were written in the same handwriting. And it wasn’t just that they weren’t active voters in New Orleans — many of them were fictional characters including Shrek, Mikey Mouse, Cinderella, and Fred Flintstone (signed and dated 2000 B.C.).
To trigger a recall election, organizers neededed to collect handwritten signatures from 20% of the voting population in Orleans Parish within 180 days from when the petition was announced back in August. This week, the governor’s office determined that out of the 67,022, signatures turned into the registrar, only 27,243 of those were registered voters in the parish — more than 15,000 signatures short of the requirement.
However, Carter said the number of signatures submitted by the registrar to the governor’s office did not match the number of signatures turned in. Carter and Batiste both claim about 100,000 signatures were turned in — not 67,000.
“So we are thinking if her number comes back matching ours, we don’t have anything to say. I have some recourse because she doesn’t talk to us,” Carter said.” Who do they even tell what the numbers are as the process goes? Because the residents aren’t told anything.”
In response, Wilson said her office did everything to verify names, birth dates, and signature validity before throwing out any signatures. She also said recall organizers dropped off a second batch of signatures on Ash Wednesday which included duplicates of nearly 90% of the first batch received.
“We counted the records, we reserved the records, we verified the records, certified the records,” said Wilson. “We’re quite sure what we’ve done is proper with keeping with the law.”
Wilson adds that in addition to the fictional characters, several pages contained profanity with no signatures. The registrar says on top of working 10-12 hours per day verifying the signatures, pages like that, it made it more difficult to do her job.