Attorney: Strict reading of law led to Cantrell recall's defeat

Cantrell Recall
Photo credit WWL

Mayor LaToya Cantrell appears to have survived the recall effort against her.

On Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that a recall vote would not take place because Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters Sandra Wilson certified more than 27,000 signatures, a tally far short of the nearly 45,000 signatures needed to force the election.

According to WWL-TV, Wilson rejected nearly 40,000 signatures. More than 30,000 of those signatures were included in the batch of petitions submitted during the five-day grace period after the February 22 deadline.

Attorney Scott Bickford told WWL's Tommy Tucker that Wilson most likely did so because of how the law is written. He said the batch of signatures submitted during the five-day grace period needed to be accompanied by written requests from each voter to be added to the petition.

"There's a different standard, and if they used the same form, then a lot of those would have been rejected," Bickford said. "This law's got to be strictly construed--that's within the statute--and Wilson basically said they didn't follow the rules, and I'm going to throw these out.

"Why the legislature chose to add that safe harbor provision in there so that people could add or get rid of their signatures upon reflection, I don't know, but when you have to do it, they set out very specific rules, and she had to follow them," Bickford added.

The big question that remains is: Will the recall leaders challenge the Registrar of Voters Office's count? Bickford says that may not be an option. State law outlines a process for the targets of recall efforts to appeal a registrar's count, but according to Bickford, it does not grant that same opportunity to recall leaders.

Bickford says the only legal challenge the NoLaToya Campaign might have is to question how the Registrar's Office conducted the signature certification process.

"There's really no procedure for the petitioners of the recall to go in and ask for some kind of recount," Bickford said. "As far as I can see, it would just be another Mandamus thing--you didn't do your job right, Dr. Wilson, and let's redo the count, or this is wrong."

Featured Image Photo Credit: WWL