Los Angeles Rejecting Votes to Oust Radical Prosecutor at 'Shockingly' High Rate, Recall Campaign Says

George Gascón recall up in the air after campaign reveals outdated signature-verification process

George Gascón (D.) / Getty Images
August 10, 2022

Los Angeles County officials are rejecting more than one out of every five petition signatures in the campaign to recall radical prosecutor George Gascón (D.), according to a random sample of signatures provided to the anti-Gascón campaign, which says the "shockingly" high rate is because officials are using outdated signature standards.

In July, the Los Angeles County registrar notified the Recall DA George Gascón campaign that a random sampling of signatures revealed a 22 percent rejection rate, 60 times more than the rejection rate for mail-in-ballots during the 2020 presidential election. In response, the recall campaign pushed the registrar to explain what they believed was a "shockingly large rejection rate."

The campaign obtained public records that show the registrar’s office was training staff to review votes using outdated signature standards, which allow the disqualification of any signature for minor variations compared with the one provided on a person's voter registration form. In a letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, lawyers for the campaign expressed concerns that these outdated standards were leading to an improperly high rejection rate.

Registrar Dean Logan on Monday said concerns over the signature rejections were "selective outrage" and "a fictitious narrative to misinform and cast doubt." But Marian Thompson, the attorney who wrote the letter, told the Washington Free Beacon the county clerk has not been forthcoming about the reasons for the rejection rate and refuses to share the precise number of invalid signatures.

"If they didn't follow the law and apply the same legal standards used for signature verification for vote-by-mail ballots, then we have a legal team assembled to resolve this matter in a court of law," Thompson said.

Gascón has been mired in controversy since taking office in November 2020. Like many progressive prosecutors backed by the left-wing billionaire George Soros, Gascón moved immediately to end cash bail, lighten sentencing guidelines, and reduce incarceration. His deputy district attorneys sued him weeks later for the drastic changes, saying his prosecutorial approach would violate their oath of office. Soros’s Justice and Public Safety PAC contributed $4.7 million to Gascón’s campaign.

The movement to recall Gascón began gathering steam as crime spiked in the city. In Los Angeles last year, auto thefts, robberies, and homicides were all up, with the city's murder rate nearing a 15-year high. In December, former Los Angeles prosecutors began circulating a petition to recall Gascón and gathered more than 715,000 signatures by July. If around 579,000 of those signatures are from registered voters in Los Angeles County, a recall election will be held in November. The signature count is due next week.

In March, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) codified pandemic-era changes to the state’s voting regulations, which reduced mail-in rejection rates by more than 80 percent in the 2020 presidential election. The current standards presume that a signature appearing on a ballot is legitimate. Prior to that change, votes could be rejected if signatures differed even slightly from a voter’s registration.

Los Angeles County is in the process of verifying signatures after a random sampling in July determined there were not enough valid signatures to trigger a recall. The Washington Examiner reported the county has denied the Gascón recall campaign observation rights for the election's signature count, further obfuscating the verification process. A spokesman for the county registrar said the recall campaign is entitled to review the count when it is over, and that their office's "focus is on completing the verification within the legal timelines with integrity and appropriate quality review."

Jason Snead, executive director of the Honest Elections Project, told the Free Beacon the registrar’s handling of the count "fuels skepticism."

"Public officials should embrace transparency," Snead said. "When they don't it fuels doubt in the integrity of our electoral system."