Recall Recount? Lawsuit Could Bring Gascon Removal to Special Election

When last we heard from the Committee to Support the Recall of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, its effort to get a ballot measure had fallen short by about 47,000 signatures, meaning the reform-crusading head of the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office had narrowly survived the second attempt to force him into a special recall election.

Registrar Dean C. Logan seemingly put the prospect of a Los Angeles countywide referendum to bed when he declared in August that of the 715,833 signatures Recall Gascón organizers had submitted by the July deadline, only 520,050 were valid; the magic number of signatures to trigger a recall: 566,857.

Gascón took office in 2020 on a massive criminal justice reform platform and quickly grew unpopular as violent crime and property theft skyrocketed while he doubled down on policies like zero-dollar bail, eliminating gang and gun-related sentence enhancements, and no longer charging any violent juveniles as adults.

The drive to recall Gascón, which polling indicated had a good chance to win, had the effort made the ballot, failed for the second time in as many tries.

Or did it?

As early as this week, lawyers for Recall George Gascón will take the Registrar’s office to court, hoping a judge will reopen a path for the lighting-rod district attorney’s removal from office.

Recall DA Gascon Committee members say the Registrar’s office has created roadblocks to a timely inspection of all 195,783 invalidated recall signatures. From a partial review of thousands of the signatures tossed by the Registrar, they say 39% showed cause for “clear, obvious, and legitimate” signs of improper invalidation. If true, this would mean the threshold to overturn the outcome of the recall has been surpassed.

Committee members will argue that the Registrar’s office threw out thousands of signatures for reasons ranging from specious claims they were “non-matching,” despite showing “substantial similarities to the signatures on file” to incorrectly invalidating them as “‘not registered’ when, in fact, the person was a registered voter who could easily be identified in the voter database,” according to a preview of the lawsuit obtained exclusively by LAMag.

“The Registrar has placed arbitrary and capricious limitations on the review process that substantially limit review hours, workstations, number of reviewers, access to information necessary to determine the legitimacy of a signature invalidation, and more,” the statement reads.

The Registrar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The L.A. County Registrar’s breakdown of signatures deemed invalid in the second recall effort of DA George Gascon. (Credit: L.A. County)

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