Our position on the recall effort is on the record. It will be deleterious to Black leadership in New Orleans. We contend that there is plenty of blame to go around and that the issues that recall advocates have pointed to as the reasons for their campaign cannot be placed solely at the Mayor’s feet, but are instead the result of longstanding neglect, disparity and inequity. Most of all, we believe at the heart of this effort is an attack on Black political power and an attempt wrest control from Black people.
That is what we believe. We stand by it. We say “NO” to the recall.
Still, not once have we questioned the rights of its leaders to launch their campaign or the right of any individual citizen to sign the petition. There is a process in place to recall elected officials; and citizens certainly have a right to avail themselves of that process.
Last week, however, we could not help but to look at those behind this recall effort with all the side-eye we could muster and ask one burning question: What in the voter-suppression hell are y’all talking about?
Less than a week from their deadline, the leaders of the recall filed a lawsuit that essentially asserts that the voter rolls in Orleans Parish must be purged of 25,000 to 30,000 plus names—names of people that recall leaders claim are either dead or are no longer Orleans Parish residents based on some independent research they have conducted.
Listening to recall leaders explain why they want the voter rolls canvassed and purged was almost . . . almost like listening to Donald Trump talk with election officials in Georgia after the 2020 election, going on about dead people and non-Georgia residents casting ballots and attacking the character of poor Ruby Freeman, an innocent Georgia election worker who endured Trump’s false accusations all because he is a hideous loser.
We could be wrong. And if we are . . . if the recall’s organizers have all the signatures they need, lawsuit not withstanding, why take the voters of Orleans Parish down this rabbit hole?
The allegations they have made are akin to same careless and baseless accusations that Trump and Republicans have been using to justify voter suppression tactics and an insurrection just to get a recall petition certified.
But if are right and recall organizers are attempting to force a purge of voter records for their own gain, that does not sit well with us. It shouldn’t well with anyone.
We say “almost” because, we are hard-pressed to suggest that anyone could be as outrageous, outlandish or as out-of-order as Donald Trump. However, this instance of calling into question the accuracy of voter rolls is less about ensuring the integrity of those records and more of about reducing the threshold for the number of signatures that must be collected to trigger a recall election. And that is problem.
Look, we would never suggest that there is not one single error or inaccuracy in Orleans Parish voter records. We, too, are familiar with anecdotal evidence. But attacking the wholesale integrity of voter records is a dangerous move to make at a time when voting rights are under attack across the nation.
Those who would suppress the rights of voters in Louisiana can’t wait to jump on this. Did anyone read Secretary State Kyle Ardoin’s statement on the matter? We did.
Ardoin, a Republican, is the state’s top election official and the supervisor of all registrars of voters across Louisiana. And instead of making a clear, non-partisan statement about the integrity of voter rolls and records, he started his statement by reminding us that he supported two Republican bills designed to add additional and unnecessary canvassing and purging of voter rolls. Oh, then he slipped in the fact that the state’s Democratic governor vetoed the bills. You better believe that this lawsuit filed by recall advocates will be the hand with which Ardoin and his Republican buddies fan. And to think that recall organizers are raising these allegations for self-serving reasons is disconcerting, to say the least.
To be sure, if there are names of dead folk and non-residents on the Orleans Parish voter rolls, they ought to be removed. There is a process that registrars of voters are supposed to follow to ensure that happens and that records are as correct as possible. And if it’s not happening in Orleans Parish, it ought to be.
But who says it’s not happening? The recall organizers? Some firm they hired with the money they raised from the wealthy local Republicans that bankrolled the recall effort?
Well, forgive us for not being convinced!
And why make this claim now? Recall organizers have been working for months to collect signatures. Yet, they claim they never received a document certifying the number of registered voters in Orleans Parish from the Secretary of State and relied on data on the website. It’s a document they should have received when they filed the petition, they say. Organizers say they have only recently learned just how faulty they believe the data is, and that is why the situation is now so pressing and important. That’s why they filed their lawsuit last week.
“This isn’t a joke. This isn’t a game,” they have said.
We can’t tell. Why wait a week before the deadline to raise these allegations? Why go for months without knowing the exact number of signatures needed to trigger a recall?
To be sure, we agree with them on one thing. This ain’t no game! Back in September we said this recall needed to be taken seriously! You ain’t gotta tell us this ain’t child’s play. Guess what else ain’t a game? Trying to purge the voter rolls of 33,000 people for any reason!
When recall organizers filed their petition, they relied on the best data available. A week ago they said they were a mere 1,000 or so signatures away; and just moments ago they claimed they reached their goal. Reportedly more than 49,000 signatures have been collected. We will see if that is enough, as we suspect they are counting on their lawsuit and voters’ names to be purged. If the petition is certified, a recall election will be called. And if that happens, rest assured we will still urge the voters of Orleans Parish to say “NO” for all of the reasons we stated earlier.
Here’s what we what we think: There’s is trouble on the horizon for the recall organizers. For months that have been touting that they were on track to reach their goal. Initially, they planned to collect far more than the 53,000 plus signatures they originally believed needed as to avoid complications. And we say if the effort to collect signatures has been so successful, why target the voter rolls?
We could be wrong. And if we are . . . if the recall’s organizers have all the signatures they need, lawsuit not withstanding, why take the voters of Orleans Parish down this rabbit hole just to get a recall petition certified?
The allegations they have made are akin to same careless and baseless accusations that Trump and Republicans have been using to justify voter suppression tactics and an insurrection.
Here’s the question we need to ask: Is this possible purge of the voter roll, which could very well include registered voters who are alive and well and are in fact Orleans Parish residents, collateral damage or the intended target?
Bottom line: If we are right, and recall organizers are attempting to force a purge of voter records for their own gain, that does not sit well with us. It shouldn’t well with anyone.