The Santa Barbara County Superior Court is expected to decide today whether or not to resume counting the signatures gathered by the recall effort against 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall.
The No on Recall committee filed a lawsuit March 14, which claims the recall supporters illegally collected signatures to remove Marshall from office. The committee claims a majority of the signatures gathered in March were collected by voters that registered in the county without the intent to remain. According to California election law, petitioners must be registered voters in the county to circle a petition.
No on Recall attorney Phillip Seymour said the recall campaign supporters claim they gathered 13,000 signatures, and that he estimates one-half to three-quarters of these signatures were gathered illegally.
“They couldn’t find people, so they hired people from Colorado, and they registered people to vote in Pea Soup Andersons Hotel in Buellton,” he said. “The tactics are unbelievable. …Under California law, they have to be a real resident. … They claim that it’s not a law.”
However, the recall supporters maintain that the signatures were lawfully collected and that they have gathered 5,000 more than the necessary signatures to have the recall go into effect.
Lammy Johnstone-Kockler, chair of the recall drive, told the Daily Nexus in March that the petitioners are legitimate voters of the county.
“Everyone has the right to solicit signatures for a petition. Though homeless people do not hold a permanent residence, they still have the right to vote and organize a petition,” she said. “The real transient voters are the students. You’ve got kids in Isla Vista getting registered, and within seven months they are moving. This is illegal.”
Recall supporters have also filed a lawsuit, which claims the motion to stop the counting is a “strategic lawsuit” designed to delay the recall process.
Seymour said the lawsuit filed by the recall supporters is an attempt to counter and invalidate their lawsuit, especially since it barred them from collecting evidence for the lawsuit.
“These people are abusing the lawsuit for tactical reasons, because the motion freezes [everything],” he said.
Since the lawsuits were filed, No on Recall supporters have also carried on a drive for people to retract their signatures. According to the committee, about 550 signatures have been retracted.
No on Recall committee leader Das Williams said if the judge rules in their favor, the next step would be to determine which signatures have been gathered illegally so they can be thrown out.
“Pending the decision about the signature gatherers, the election department won’t know what to count until more evidence is gathered. You do not know which ones are going to be legal,” Williams said.
On May 22, the judge is expected to deliver a final ruling on the legality of the signatures gathered by the petitioners.