It’s been a few weeks since the word began trickling out that the organizers of the petition to incorporate the new city of St. George in the southern part of East Baton Rouge Parish had collected the requisite number of signatures to force the incorporation to a vote. That word will become deed early next week, as the organizers gave the East Baton Rouge Parish registrar of voters a three-day notice pursuant to state law they’d be turning in the petition.
They’ll be following up on Friday with a similar notice, as the new state law on incorporation petitions is vague on whether these three-day notices in advance of turning in the petition envision business days or calendar days. Wednesday would be three business days; Friday would be three calendar days.
We’re told the St. George petition has well more than 1,000 signatures more than the required number to force the issue onto the ballot; in 2015 when the organizers first mounted the incorporation effort their margin was about half that number after the petition was scrubbed of invalid signatures obtained by an out-of-state contractor they’d hired. But the East Baton Rouge registrar took its time with the petition and allowed opponents to approach petition-signers in an effort to get them to remove their names, causing a circus and ultimately knocking the petition down to some 71 signatures below the required number.
Changes in the law make that less likely this time. But it’s widely expected the opponents will exhaust every possibility to invalidate this petition, and there doesn’t appear to be much of a bottom to the tactics they’ll use.
Meanwhile, between now and Monday the St. George organizers will continue last-minute attempts to add signatures and pad their numbers. Don’t be surprised to see even more drama, as the opponents have already attempted to weaponize law enforcement officers against the petition-signers…