Pamela Price recall update: Signature count still underway

If the group falls short of valid signatures, it will have 10 days to make up the difference, the recall campaign said Friday.

Pamela Price recall update: Signature count still underway
DA Pamela Price in a video announcement from the office last month. Alameda County DA's Office

The group seeking to recall DA Pamela Price says it expects to know by April 15 whether it submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

If the group falls short, it will have 10 days to make up the difference, the recall campaign announced in a statement Friday.

The campaign submitted more than 123,000 signatures to county election officials on March 4, "well over the 73,195 required" to qualify for the ballot, organizers said.

The registrar of voters then had 10 days to validate and tally the signatures, which it initially did via a "statistical count," or sampling, to determine whether an estimated state threshold of 110% had been met.

The statistical count did not meet the threshold, the campaign said, but it did indicate "that we had more than 73,195 valid signatures if hand-counted."

"Since statistical samples are not precise, California law requires a much higher number of signatures" than the base requirement of 73,195, the recall team said.

The group said the invalid signatures primarily came from unregistered voters in Alameda County, people who had signed the petition more than once, or those who failed to include their occupation when they signed.

The occupation field issue will be one to watch as the recall effort proceeds.

The state does not require the occupation field under its recall rules, in part because there is no way to check its accuracy.

It's also not part of the voter file, which election officials use to validate signatures.

However, the field is listed on the signature collection form approved by the county, and Price supporters have been claiming for months that it is necessary.

Price recall campaign turned in 123K signatures, group says
The registrar of voters has 10 days to review the names to determine whether there are enough valid signatures from Alameda County voters.

Because the importance of the occupation field is up for debate, it may well play a role if there's a legal challenge — whether from recall proponents themselves or supporters of DA Pamela Price.

In Friday's statement, the recall team noted that there's a widespread lack of transparency throughout the state in the "strict counting techniques" used by voter registrars in signature validation.

"Throwing out 30% or more signatures is not uncommon, thus the reason for gathering additional signatures," the campaign said.

Price supporters have questioned the recall process

Price supporters have been raising questions for months about various aspects of the recall campaign, such as who is driving it and whether its backers have followed the rules.

They held a press conference last month to describe "alleged misdeeds" by recall petition gatherers, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in March.

At the press conference, Price advocates claimed that some signature forms had been left unattended in public, and could have been altered, and that some signature gatherers may have "tricked" people into signing, the Chronicle said.

The team said it had written to Attorney General Rob Bonta to ask him to investigate reports of what it described as "widespread fraud."

In its story last month, The Chronicle noted that recall experts it had consulted were "divided over whether these assertions, even if proven, are legally actionable amid competing interpretations of recall rules."

Price supporters also told the Chronicle that they don't plan to file a lawsuit because "they don’t have the money for what would likely be expensive litigation."

The other main concern that has been repeatedly raised by the Price campaign has been that some of the recall signature gatherers were not Alameda County residents, despite a local residency requirement in the county charter.

But that seems likely to be a red herring: Last year, county officials said the recall team did not need to follow the residency requirement because similar provisions had already been deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stay tuned for ongoing coverage.

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, this story originally said that some of the invalid signatures came from out-of-county voters. It should have read that these were unregistered voters in Alameda County. The story has been fixed.

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