The campaign to recall New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has officially fallen short of its goal to reach the 44,976 signatures needed to trigger a recall election, and we seem to be left with more questions than we had when the signatures were still being counted.
The number of valid signatures was revealed Tuesday, where Governor John Bel Edwards announced that there were only 27,000 valid signatures turned in. What is also worth mentioning is that 67,022 signatures were turned in total, with 39,805 of those signatures coming from people who are not qualified Orleans Parish electors.
Any observer of Louisiana politics knows of rampant corruption and nuance often associated with the state, and of course, the recall outcome is no different. The issues go FAR beyond just signatures being acquired from outside the electorate.
The recall organizers began sending out mail-in petitions with voter information already filled out in late 2022 in order to continue the momentum that was seen early on in the effort.
This aspect of the recall effort could have been a massive success with better oversight. Petitions were returned with an array of errors, but the petitions returned without a witness yielded a problem.
Juliet Laughlin was an avid supporter of the recall effort and has even been seen publicly with top organizers. Her name has been signed as a witness on multiple petitions. The Times Picayune’s investigation into the matter found multiple people who said that they had not even met Laughlin.
The witness section of the petition is an important part, and there is a clear chance that it was completely fumbled not due to oversight but ignorance.
To continue, it appears that Shrek and Fred Flinstone were amongst those who wanted to recall Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
There have been countless reports of popular fiction characters’ names appearing in lists of those who signed the petition. If the entire ordeal were not already a mess, some may now even find it comical.
Ninety percent of the second batch of signatures were thrown out because they were duplicates. Other reports have even mentioned signatures using the same handwriting, fake names, and some sheets even missing Cantrell’s name as the official being recalled.
The deeper this recall is investigated, the clearer it becomes that the organizers seemed to put little effort into what they were doing. There is way more that could be mentioned, like pages turned in that included nothing but profanity directed towards the entire recall effort.
To top off the negligence, it is worth noting that bussinessman Rick Farrell donated a large sum of money to the recall, even in its early days to get it off the ground.
Farrell placed himself under fire for doing so, as these moves only place him under more fire after supporting President Donald Trump prior.
Perhaps the most upsetting aspect is Farrell’s reason for his support of the recall, which was simply his care for the city. He had seen the deterioration that New Orleans experienced under Cantrell’s heinous leadership and was looking to uproot it.
This is the same reason many outside of Orleans Parish supported the effort from a distance. It was care for a city at the heart of a state they love dearly. Honestly, this may even be part of the reason there were so many signatures that were received from outside of Orleans Parish.
What is Farrell and concerned citizens left with instead of a shot at a recall election?
They are left with a mess of an outcome. Ridiculous ignorance, oversight, and negligence that they will probably only continue to hear more about. Farrell has hundreds of thousands less in the bank while people around Louisiana will very likely continue to tell their children about why they take little interest in visiting the city of New Orleans when they had done so prior.
Of course, a part of me retains a sense of skepticism. Tens of thousands of signatures being thrown out is no small feat. Whether this entire recall saga ends due to poor conduct by the organizers or not, its conclusion is a mess with tons of pieces to pick up.