Gascón Recall Clears First Hurdle as Signature Count Begins

A random sampling of recall signatures was “sufficient” to allow a full check of all 715,833 signatures submitted to oust D.A. George Gascón

George Gascón dodged a bullet Thursday when the outcome of a random sampling of five percent of all signatures to recall the Los Angeles County District Attorney missed the cutoff to automatically qualify for the ballot. But the embattled progressive prosecutor isn’t out of the woods just yet. The nail-biter of a count must go on, says County Registrar-Recorder Dean C. Logan, who is overseeing the closely watched process.

The first hurdle to getting the recall put before voters required election officials to validate between 25,510 and 31,179 signatures out of a random sample of five percent of the total number of signatures submitted (35,793). Election officials validated 27,983.

The result of the random sampling falls within the threshold that requires the Registrar-Recorder to proceed with a full check of all 715,833 signatures submitted to recall the D.A.

“If the number of valid signatures had exceeded 31,179, the petition would have been certified as sufficient,” Logan said in a statement.  “If the number of valid signatures was lower than 25,510, the petition would have been certified as insufficient.”

Elected in 2020 on a platform to roll back “mass incarceration,” less than two years later Gascón is now moving ever closer to getting thrown out of office. The dizzying set of blanket reforms the progressive D.A. has instituted since taking over the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office—from eliminating gun allegations and gang enhancements to getting rid of cash bail and disbanding the unit that assists crime victims at the parole hearings of their assailants—have angered crime victims and incited a mutiny among his own prosecutors, many of whom accuse him of being “soft of crime.”

For the next step in the process, if the invalidation rate is 21 percent or higher, the petition to recall the D.A. will not qualify for the ballot. But if the invalidation rate is 20 percent or lower, it will qualify—and then voters in will decide Gascón’s fate in November’s general election, or in a special election that’s likely to be held in January 2023.

“To me, it’s not looking good for the recall,” said Max Szabo, a former spokesman for Gascón who now works as a political strategist in California.

The news may have provided a moment of relief for Gascón supporters, but the recallers reacted with jubilation.

“George-you are one step closer to losing your job!” tweeted child-abuse prosecutor Jon Hatami. “Angelenos-we are one step closer to bringing back public safety, accountability, reasonable reforms, transparency, empathy, compassion, law, and justice for all!”

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