This is going to be a big, fat mess. From the St. George Facebook page…
We have recently identified a large amount of signatures that were erroneously rejected by the Registrar of Voters. We notified the Registrar of the clear error and requested he do the right thing and make the correction. Late yesterday, the Registrar notified us that his office had “completed their work” and that he would not make the correction.
This morning we filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus with the 19th JDC, which asks the Court to force the Registrar to make this correction, which should cause our petition to be certified and sent to the Governor.
The error was clear and we are now relying on the presiding Judge to make it right and cause the necessary correction.
We will not stop until every valid signature is counted, ensuring the voice of the people is heard.
We understand that we’re looking at significantly more signatures than the 71 that St. George fell short by, so this is going to be a sizable fight.
And if the St. George people deliver to the court sufficient signatures with no legal defects so as to warrant a validation of their petition, the scrutiny on the East Baton Rouge Registrar of Voters will be intense.
From the start, the registrar’s conduct in this case has been suspicious – from taking what seemed like an inordinate amount of time to certify the St. George petition, while every day the well-funded Better Together group was collecting withdrawals and pulling the total number of signatures lower and lower toward the minimum necessary, and then finally reaching into the previously-settled list of signatures from the first batch of the St. George petition to be turned in and throwing out just enough to reject the whole thing.
Apparently, part of what the registrar did was to throw out signatures from people who were recently registered to vote, despite the fact nothing in state law would make those people ineligible to sign the petition. One would think you’d interpret the law in such a way as to encourage civic engagement rather than inhibit it, so if there is a question whether to count people who choose to become engaged in civic and political issues as a result of something like St. George you’d resolve it in favor of counting their signatures. Obviously that wasn’t done, and it’s a pretty good signal that the registrar’s office showed bias.
These issues are going to heat up, rather than cool down, as the St. George issue now goes to court. And as we’ve said before, regardless of how they’re resolved this time – whether the petition does manage to lurch across the finish line or not – the way this has been handled by the Powers That Be in Baton Rouge all but ensure that there will be a St. George eventually.