N.O. Registrar: Recall petitions contained the names of Disney characters and lots of duplicates
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Boxes of signed recall petitions were brought into an 8th-floor conference room in city hall on Thursday (March 23) before Registrar Sandra Wilson addressed the news media on how her office went about scrutinizing the signatures and certifying a portion of them.
“We’ve counted the records, we received the records, we verified the records, we certified the records and we are quite sure that what we’ve done is proper and in keeping with the law,” said Wilson.
She explained further how they verified whether someone was actually a registered voter in the city.
“We used the statewide computer system ERIN to check records between what the petitioners brought us, organizers brought us and what was on file, so we looked at the voter registration, date of birth, addresses, signatures for sure,” said Wilson.
She provided members of the media examples of signature lists provided to her office with names of Disney characters on them.
Chief Deputy Registrar Danielle Duplessis-Hammond read some of them off.
“These documents provided to us by the registrar show signatures like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Princess Tiana, Cinderella, Shrek,” said Duplessis-Hammond.
She said such names were found on the petitions submitted on February 22 and five days later on February 27.
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“Our supplemental list seems to be a duplicate, a complete duplicate of the original.”
Under Louisiana, registered voters have days after the original submission of recall petitions to the registrar to add or subtract their names from the petition.
Wilson said her office went through the second batch of signatures even though they were mostly duplicates anyway.
“Actually according to the law, the ones that we received on the 27th we did not have to actually process any of those other than the people who brought theirs in individually but we did and the reason that we did was because in case something like this happened we wanted to be able to explain and to show what was in those documents and we really didn’t have to receive them at all,” said Wilson.
Only 27,000 of the more than 60,000 signatures submitted ended up being certified by the registrar due the duplications and Wilson’s staff said some other requirements were not met regarding forms submitted with the signatures.
Documents Wilson provided to the governor show 1,500 duplicates in the first batch of signatures and over 4,700 in the second traunch.
Duplessis-Hammond explained that duplicates listed on the form were far less than the more than 30,000 they received due to the Election and Registration Information Network.
“When we input into the E.R.I.N system it calculates based on whether that particular person was accepted or whether or not it was a duplicate, so when you have pages that cannot process through the ERIN system it doesn’t receive it that way,” she said.
Wilson believes her office’s handling of the signatures and certification will withstand legal challenges.
“Very confident,” said Wilson.
And she said even though recall petitions are public record she could not honor them given the 20 days she had to count and certify the signatures and pointed to a state law she believes is on her side.
“We were dealing with a live process. To give you a third of those numbers would have tainted the process and it would have prevented us from meeting our deadline so we really could not stop the process,” said Wilson.
She was also asked if the recall laws of the state should be tweaked.
“I think that probably at the legislative level there should be a lot of conversations as to this process and some other kinds of things that would make elections flow more smoothly. Like for instance, why stop a group of people who are doing elections and processing records, why would we have to stop and do all this work and figure it out,” said Wilson.
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