Baton Rouge People Have Seen This NOLAToya Recall Drama Before

They’re in court in New Orleans this week because of a discrepancy in the number of actual registered voters on the rolls, and that might have some effect on whether LaToya Cantrell ends up facing a recall election.

Organizers of the recall petition of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell are in court Monday (Feb. 27) asking for an accurate count of the active voters in Orleans Parish.

The NoLaToya organizers are arguing that the Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters has fallen short on the job, saying the active voter list is off by more than 30,000 names.

The campaign filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Registrar Sandra Wilson and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin saying they have not adequately performed their duties.

Representatives for Ardoin’s office argued that he had a very limited role in the process of providing the report of qualified voters. They say if he should face any litigation, it should be in East Baton Rouge Parish, where his duties are performed.

Representatives for the recall organizers say both Ardoin and Wilson are responsible for maintaining an accurate list of active voters in Orleans Parish. The litigation affects Orleans voters and therefore should take place there, attorneys said.

A judge ruled that Orleans Parish is a proper venue for the litigation.

“These people aren’t here. These dead people can’t sign the petition and these people who moved out of state cannot sign the petition either,” NoLaToya attorney Laura Cannizzaro Rodrigue told Fox 8. “So we should only be required to get 20% of people who are actually active voters in Orleans Parish.”

Rodrigue requested that Ardoin face questioning in person, not through a proxy. Ardoin’s office says Commissioner Sherry Hadskey is better suited to answer the court’s questions, as she is most directly connected to the maintaining of the voter lists.

Reports have it that the recall petition has enough signatures on it that even without knocking down the number of active registered voters in Orleans Parish, they can still force a recall election on Cantrell…

New Orleans organizers seeking to recall Mayor LaToya Cantrell from office believe they have received enough signatures to qualify for a special mayoral election.

The recall campaign began in August 2022, launched by chairman Belden Batiste and vice chairwoman Eileen Carter, attributing the cause to Cantrell’s “quiet quit” and neglect of interacting with department heads and addressing the city’s crime surge over the last few years.

“It’s like a tale of two mayors,” said Carter, who worked in Cantrell’s social media department for three years. “I don’t think she’s making very good judgment decisions for the city at all, to the point of arrogance.”

The petition received over 50,000 signatures and was submitted before the Feb. 22 deadline on Wednesday.

The mayor’s calendar used to include regular meetings with departments but had not had any in over a year since November 2022, according to a Fox News affiliate’s public records analysis. Carter said it was hard to watch the mayor slip away from her duties.

So really the question at this point is whether the Cantrell mess spreads and takes out Wilson, the registrar of voters, and Ardoin, the secretary of state.

It’ll be interesting to see how the court handles the disputed 30,000 lines on the voter rolls. Standard practice in Louisiana is that the rolls are maintained more or less in real time, against coroner’s reports and the National Change of Address database, but where those records are inaccurate there does exist the possibility a voter who has moved away but didn’t bother to file anything with NCOA or the Post Office, and hasn’t registered to vote somewhere else, would get missed.

Then there are the cases where, for example, a woman might be registered as Mrs. John Smith. But when she dies, on the death certificate she’s listed as Mary Smith, and because of that discrepancy she can’t be removed from the rolls.

This matters not just to the recall effort, obviously. Slack on the voter rolls is an opportunity to pile up votes. Louisiana is a lot better than other states like Arizona and Michigan in policing that, but it’s still a problem.


And there isn’t a very deep reservoir of trust after this

On Sunday, The Louisiana Citizens Advocacy Group sent a letter to Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters Dr. Sandra Wilson asking her to explain how she is securing recall petitions in the recall effort against New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

This comes after a recall leader, Belden Batiste, posted a social media video allegedly showing unattended recall petitions on a counter in the registrar’s office 48 hours after he and others dropped them off there.

Batiste says the video also shows officials in the office removing the boxes of petitions after Batiste starts recording them.

Here was the video…

Suspicions are going to run high until all of this is resolved, and they’ll certainly run high if what happens to the NOLAToya recall is something similar to what happened with the first St. George incorporation petition several years ago – in which the registrar of voters systematically threw out petition signatures until what was expected to be a successful incorporation petition forcing an election suddenly wasn’t. To this day the St. George people will still tell you they believe chicanery was afoot.

And that was in Baton Rouge. This is New Orleans, where faith in local government is even less justified.

Again, it might not even matter where the recall is concerned. The word is the recall effort was vetting each signature as they obtained them, so their expectation is no more than a few of them would be thrown out.

But challenging the voter registration totals seems to be a best practice for future petition-based efforts, whether recalls or incorporations or something else. We’ll see how closely this fight tracks to the St. George one from eight years ago.



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