Calling the No On Recall Committee “counter-productive,” Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle shot down efforts to stop the recall against 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall.
Wednesday’s court ruling came almost six months after the recall effort against Marshall began. The campaign filed the recall petition in October, and by late March petitioners had gathered approximately 13,000 signatures in favor of the recall. The No On Recall Committee filed a suit shortly after, claiming the signatures were collected from voters who had no intention of remaining in the county or were not registered to vote at all. According to California law, registered voters must have the intent to remain in the county.
“This matter needs to be resolved in an election, not in a court room,” Anderle said. “I don’t think it’s an unreasonable or frivolous request, but I don’t think the law supports [No On Recall’s] position.”
The No On Recall Committee presented evidence that at least 12 of the signatures collected by recall petitioners were from people who are not registered to vote in Santa Barbara County. The committee also presented written declarations from individuals who came into contact with petition circulators who they said misrepresented the petition.
Anderle said the circumstantial evidence was not sufficient to challenge the recall effort and the signatures gathered.
“The evidence has not supported that some signatures are not from registered voters. It is evident to me that under the circumstances, even if you were able to prove they weren’t registered voters, the law does not permit the signatures to be challenged.”
No On Recall attorney Phillip Seymour made several attempts to dissuade Anderle from his decision.
“I can’t see any meaningful reason for disregarding this issue,” Seymour said. “The residents of the county should be the ones to decide if an elected official will be removed.”
Anderle said his priority now is to have the signatures counted to determine if there are enough to put the matter on the ballot. He said a trial over the legality of the signatures could turn into a “quagmire of litigation that could take months or even years.”
Marshall said if there is an election in the fall, she is confident she will win.
“We knew that we had a difficult road to travel, but one worth pursuing in order to uphold the integrity of our election laws,” Marshall said. “We will make the decision of whether to appeal after we have had a chance to carefully study the court’s decision and its potential consequences on the rights of 3rd District voters.”