Petitioners have gathered the 8,914 signatures needed to put the recall of 3rdDistrict Supervisor Gail Marshall on the ballot this summer, but Marshall supporters say the hired signature-gatherers lied to voters to collect many of them.
The Gail Marshall Recall Drive needed the signatures by March 18 to put the recall on the ballot for an election in August. Throughout the past couple of weeks, petitioners from National Voters Outreach (NVO) – a nationwide petition management and consultation company – have been soliciting signatures from UCSB students, circulating four different petitions related to racial profiling, clean water, same day voter registration and the Gail Marshall recall.
Twenty of Gail Marshall’s constituents, including four UCSB students, initiated the recall petition. The petition accuses Marshall of violating her oath of office, ignoring the wishes of 3rd District citizens, undermining agriculture, and creating tension between North and South County.
In an attempt to campaign against the petitions, Marshall’s supporters created the No On Recall Campaign to educate the public about the recall and Marshall’s accomplishments.
Das Williams, the No On Recall campaign manager, said the recall petitioners – who are paid about $1 per signature – represent a select group of right wing, North County residents and are using unethical methods of collecting signatures.
“The petitioners are people coming in from out of town to a new area and they don’t know their way around,” Williams said. “It should be obvious that they have moved to the Santa Barbara area with the sole purpose of collecting signatures.”
Williams said the No On Recall Campaign has received complaints from students about the petitioners’ tactics. The petitioners are soliciting signatures by using half-truths, innuendoes and outright lies, Williams said.
“Some petitioners are saying that the recall is good for Gail Marshall. Others have told the students that they are signing for clean water, and then the petitioners will flip the page and tell the students that they have to sign another section, which is the Gail Marshall recall petition. This is a deliberate attempt to deceive voters,” Williams said.
Buellton resident and petitioner Charlie Chavez said he feels the petitioner’s methods are fair and sensitive to the students’ needs.
“If people are in a hurry, I just inform them that they are signing to get issues on the ballot and that they will actually vote on the issues later,” Chavez said.
The recall election would most likely be over the summer, however – when many of the students who usually support Marshall have gone home.
“Collecting signatures from the students, and saying that it is ‘just to get the issue on the ballot and that they can vote later’ is a disenfranchisement because the election will be held during the summer when most of the students will not be here to vote,” Williams said.
Students have had mixed reactions.
Senior sociology major Lisa Baressi said she was not fully informed before she signed the petition.
“My roommate and I were in a rush to get to class, I thought it was just to register to vote but after I signed … they told us it was a recall,” she said.
Lammy Johnstone-Kockler, head of the Gail Marshall recall drive, said she doesn’t understand why there would be any confusion.
“There’s something wrong if men and women going to a prestigious school like UCSB do not know what they are signing,” Johnstone-Kockler said. “Everyone should ask questions and read the petitions. There is enough press about it in the Nexus and other sources so students should know what is going on. If they don’t know what they are signing, they shouldn’t sign it. That’s not my problem.”
Williams said the No On Recall Campaign will take a proactive approach to countering the petitions this week. The campaigners will be alongside the petitioners to inform students about the petitions and recall, and provide forms for students who have already signed the petition but want their name removed.
Williams said the small number of people who have contacted their campaign means that there are most likely hundreds or even thousands of students who have signed the petitions under false pretenses.
“Hopefully their tactics will backfire on them,” he said.