While we already looked at the failure of the recall attempt against Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, there has been a number of articles and a prominent social media post putting forward a complaint about the clerk which suggests something untoward in the signature verification process. There have been some corrections, including a highly recommend Red State story a conservative site that backed the recall, which takes a scathing look at the failure of the recall effort and calls into question the complaints of petitioners. The Red State article alleges some level of actual fraud in signing the attestations and that the petitioners knew that they did not have enough signatures.
I guess I should revisit the numbers to show what seems to have happened.
27.3% of the signatures were tossed out -- 195,783 of the 715,833 signatures handed in (I'm not sure why 28% has been regularly cited as the number). So they missed by 46,807. They got 520,050 valids. They needed 566,857.
As noted before, the signature rejection rate was within the range of past California recalls, though on the higher end (Here's the link with the discussion). There was a 34% signature failure rate for LA Councilmember Mike Bonin and a 20% rejection rate for the recalls of the San Francisco District Attorney and the three San Francisco School Board members. Because of the available data, these are useful to look at for comparison purposes.
The rejections for the Gascon recall were as follows:
Not Registered -- 88,464 (12% of total handed in)
Duplications -- 43,593 (6%)
Different Address -- 32,187 (4%)
Mismatch signature -- 9,490 (1.3%)
Canceled -- 7,344 (1%)
Out of County Address -- 5,374 (.07%)
Other -- 9,331 (1.3%)
In the San Francisco recalls, the handed in 83,484 signatures, and sampled 4174 (I explain how this works here). In the D.A. Chesa Boudin recall, the breakdown was:
Approved -- 79% (3229 signatures)
Not Registered 13.2% (553)
No Signature 0% (2)
PO Box/Mailing Address -- .1% (4)
Printed Signatures .1% (3)
Registered Late -- .9% (39)
Signatures does not match 1.5% (62)
Wrong Address -- 4.8% (201)
Cannot identify .2% (7)
No Residence Address Given 0% (2)
Duplicates -- Signed more than once 0% (2)
Hopefully, we can see the big difference here. The not registered is very similar -- actually higher in San Francisco. The sheer number of duplicates here -- 43,593 is 6% of total signatures. There were only 2 duplicates in the SF DA sample. The school board samples were even better -- they had only one for all three combined recalls. This may point to issues the gatherers, as there was a lawsuit by the signature gathering company against the recall committee. The Red State article goes very deeply into this.
More objectionable, the pro-recall forces sent a note complaining about the standard for the recall and a "shockingly large" rejection rate, though they used a very odd comparison (ballots mailed out during past elections). These ballots were of course sent to registered voters. So there would be no problem with the non-register voters, out of district voters or duplicates. The failure rate of those signatures was similar with the election and recall.
This did not stop a false meme from spreading, a story amplified by Donald Trump Jr. among many others. But as we can see (and as the Red State story notes), the actual mismatched signatures were a small part of the Gascon recall failure.
The petitioners have criticized heavily for spending $8 million and not getting to the ballot (an upcoming Red State story promises a look at where the spending went). Some recent propositions (discussed towards the end) spent $6 million to get on the ballot, though they had the advantage of gathering signatures throughout the state. But even there, there was a significant failure rate.
The petitioners could have claimed a moral victory in gaining so many signatures -- this was vastly more signatures than ever handed in for a non-gubernatorial/LG recall in American history. The sheer number of signatures needed (more than against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in 2012 and nearly 10X that needed in San Francisco), was enough reason for it to fail. But instead, they decided to launch a baseless attack on the Clerk's office.