NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he would not call for a recall election against New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, because organizers failed to reach the necessary number of certified signatures needed.
The Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters officially turned over the certified signatures to the governor on Tuesday. Hours later, Edwards confirmed that the recall effort had fell short by thousands of signatures.
Edwards' confirmation was the culmination of six months since the recall petition was officially filed, months that were permeated with political mudslinging, accusations of secrecy and disenfranchisement, as well as legal actions and court hearings.
Here is a timeline of the last six months since the recall efforts against Cantrell officially kicked off.
Cantrell Recall Timeline:
August 26, 2022
Petition to recall Cantrell officially filed. Organizers have until Feb. 22, 2023, to reach a required signature threshold.
According to Louisiana law, the recall petition must gather signatures from 20% of registered, active voters in Orleans Parish to be considered valid. Initially, organizers sought more than 52,000 signatures based on state figures showing more than 264,000 registered voters in the parish.
August 30, 2022
Cantrell's campaign calls the recall effort against her a Republican-backed Fox News-led propaganda campaign to, "undermine and discredit the first Black woman mayor of New Orleans."
September 27, 2022
Recall organizers, now under the banner of NOLATOYA, say they have 20% of the signatures needed to force a recall.
October 11, 2022
Cantrell's campaign reiterates that the recall campaign against her is funded by mega-donors that support former President Donald Trump. The campaign's two biggest donors are revealed to be Donald “Boysie” Bollinger and Richard Farrell.
Bollinger was Louisiana finance co-chair of Donald Trump’s presidential campaigns and campaign finance records show he donates tens of thousands of dollars to republican campaigns every year.
Farrell is co-owner of Walk-Ons, is a registered Republican, and has donated tens of thousands to the Republican Party of Louisiana over the years.
November 29, 2022
Thousands of New Orleans voters begin to receive individualized, mailed petitions seeking to recall Cantrell. Voters just have to sign, date and get a witness to sign — then mail the card back for free. There’s also an ad campaign promoting the mailers.
January 22, 2023
In an appearance on CBS' Face The Nation, Cantrell says she is confident that the recall effort against her would not succeed.
"Continuity and leadership is what I'm seeing by my people," she says.
February 8, 2023
Under a court agreement signed on Feb. 8, recall leaders said they would provide The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate with a copy of their petitions by 5 p.m. Wednesday — the deadline for submitting them to the Orleans Parish registrar of voters for verification.
The newspaper sued organizer Eileen Carter after Nolatoya.org declined to release signatures to the newspaper during the petition drive. Her lawyers argued that voters who signed the petition had a “reasonable expectation of privacy" and that revealing their names could expose them to retaliation.
February 14, 2023
Organizers with NOLATOYA campaign say they are 'within reach' of their signature goal with about a week left until the deadline. As the deadline for signatures nears, the campaign has made a real effort in gathering signatures with its TV advertisements, mailed fliers, and signing events at festivals and public events.
February 16, 2023
Recall organizers file a lawsuit against the Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters claiming that more than 30,000 voters listed on the parish's voting rolls should be investigated. The court filing says that those individuals have either moved or died and should not be counted for the threshold for required signatures.
February 20, 2023
NOLATOYA campaign says they are confident that they have reached enough signatures to force a recall election. Co-founder Eileen Carter said that the organization had secured more than 49,000 signatures.
February 22, 2023
One-hundred-eighty days after the recall petition was filed, recall organizers rushed 10 boxes of petitions to City Hall and declared that they have enough signatures to force a recall.
Neither Eileen Carter nor Belden Batiste, two of the founders of the effort, would say exactly how many signatures were turned in Wednesday. Carter did provide a clue.
“We have more signatures than the mayor got votes,” she said.
February 23, 2023
Recall organizers demand $15,000 from The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate to comply with a court agreement to give the city's daily newspaper copies of the signed petition.
An attorney for Nolatoya.org told the newspaper that it must pay $1 per page — about $15,000 — for the signatures, which are public record under state law.
February 27, 2023
On the first day of court hearings, recall organizers claim that the voter rolls in Orleans Parish are inaccurate because they include people who have moved or died.
February 28, 2023
The second day of court hearings abruptly ends after reports that recall organizers are working on a deal with Republican Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin's Office to determine the number of required signatures needed to force a recall.
March 1, 2023
Ardoin's Office announces a settlement that would drop the number of valid signatures needed by 5,000, from 49,975 to 44,975. Whether recall organizers have that many valid signatures is a mystery.
Cantrell claims that the deal is an effort to disenfranchise Black voters. Ardoin spokesman John Tobler stressed that the settlement only sets a new target for the recall effort. Nobody's status as a registered voter is being changed, nobody is being removed from the voter rolls and nobody is losing the right to vote, he said.
The deal is later approved by Judge Jennifer Medley
March 9, 2023
A report reveals that Judge Jennifer Medley who approved a court settlement lowering the number of signatures needed didn't disclose that she had signed the petition.
The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate reported that Medley had signed the petition in December. The newspaper made the discovery after having filed a lawsuit to get the signatures from recall organizers.
March 10, 2023
The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate publishes the results of a sample of the signatures on the recall petition. The paper reports that an analysis of 32,000 signatures shows a stark disparity in support, with a campaign driven largely by white voters concentrated in the city's affluent neighborhoods.
March 15, 2023
Cantrell takes legal action seeking to throw out a deal between the Secretary of State and the group seeking to recall her from office. Cantrell’s filing alleges that the Secretary of State was “exercising a power not bestowed on him” and in doing so “usurped powers specially reserved to the Louisiana legislature.”
In addition, the filing takes aim at Judge Jennifer Medley, who approved the deal between the two sides, but who was found to have signed the recall position and failed to disclose the conflict of interest.
March 17, 2023
Medley refuses to recuse herself. Instead, she says she would request the Louisiana Supreme Court to appoint a special judge to decide the matter in accordance with a state law.
“This Court is confident that any judicial duties performed in this proceeding have been and would be performed without bias or prejudice to any part,” Medley wrote.
March 21, 2023
The Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters delivers certified signatures to Gov. John Bel Edwards. Edwards later said that he would not call for a recall election because the petition failed to reach the 45,000 signatures needed to force an election.
According to Edwards, the recall petition contained 67,022 handwritten signatures, but only 27,243 of them were valid signatures from qualified electors.
According to the data released by the Governor's office, 34,625 signatures were submitted by the deadline. Of those, 7,411 were rejected. Another 32,421 supplemental signatures were submitted in the five days after, but nearly all of those were rejected.
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