The No On Recall Committee announced its legal strategy to stop the recall election intended to oust 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall from office yesterday – the same day its opponents delivered the signatures to put that election on the ballot.
No On Recall claims eleven of the recall campaign petitioners are out-of-county residents who registered in Santa Barbara County in order to legally collect signatures. The committee filed a request with County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor Ken Pettit and District Attorney Thomas Sneddon to cancel the voter registrations of the eleven individuals and requested that the signatures they collected be retracted. No On Recall also requested that the accused petitioners be prosecuted for violating the state election code.
Claim Against Recall Petitioners
No On Recall organizers said recall campaign tactics violate a section of the California Elections Code, which states that recall petitioners must be registered voters of the county and cannot move into the area for temporary work.
The committee’s attorney Phillip Seymour said the eleven petitioners registered to vote in Santa Barbara County by listing their address as local motels, including Andersen’s Pea Soup in Buellton.
“These people signed a voter registration form in order to legally become petition gatherers,” he said. “We found voting records of these individuals through basic research methods. These people were part of a program called the National Voters Outreach, which hires people to collect signatures for petitions.”
No On Recall also said recall petitioners collected signatures by telling people they were signing a petition for a different cause.
“These people also misrepresented the purpose of the petition. Many people who signed the recall petition thought they were signing a petition regarding water quality,” Seymour said. “There were 550 people who called the elections office to retract their signatures. This shows that many people were confused as to what they were signing.”
Recall Drive Responds
The Gail Marshall Recall Drive gave Pettit the 8,819 signatures needed to put the recall of Gail Marshall on the ballot yesterday. The Board of Supervisors will have 14 days to schedule an election once it receives the petition. It is unknown whether or not the No On Recall Committee’s call for an investigation will delay that happening. If there is no delay, the election will be scheduled between late June and late July. Recall opponents say the petitions were submitted in time to ensure the recall election would take place during summer, when many of Marshall’s supporters – students – are out of town.
Twenty of Marshall’s constituents, including four UCSB students, initiated the recall petition in Nov., 2001. 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.
Lammy Johnstone-Kockler, chair of the recall drive, said her petitioners’ methods were legitimate.
“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.”
Andy Caldwell, a political advocate with the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, said voters have expressed their wish to hold a recall election.
“The recall petition expresses the will of the voters,” he said. “A majority of the registered voters have indicated that they want to hold a recall election for Gail Marshall. The No On Recall Committee has hired an attorney to create a loophole in the democratic process.”
Das Williams, No On Recall campaign manager, said he is disturbed that the recall drive considers students legal residents when signing a petition but not when voting in an election.
“Students are not legal residents, yet somehow people who come here for two weeks to collect signatures are,” Williams said. “Many students stay in the area and take a vested interest in its affairs. Students are being disenfranchised by the recall drive.”