Monday, April 15, 2024

California: Alameda District Attorney recall makes the ballot

It looks like the recall is a go in Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, though let's expect a bumpy ride ahead. Alameda County Registrar of Voters announced that the petitioners got enough signatures to make the ballot. Petitioners handed in 123,374 signatures and got 74,757 valids. They needed 73,195.

First, a word on the success (or failure) rate. The 60.5% validation rate seems low and we have not seen a breakdown yet. But (from what I've heard) it appears that the reason for the failures may be due to the Alameda charter law that requires signers to state an occupation. So it may be under normal rules, the signature total would be much higher, which would limit a lawsuit here. 

Unfortunately, the press release also doesn't explain why they tossed out signatures (which is pretty critical). Price's team was discussing a challenge over out of district signature gatherers (banned by the county law). The problem is that a Supreme Court decision, Buckley v. ACLF seems to wipe out that provision. Note that recalls are considered a ballot measure by California rules (though not by any case that I know of -- the question is an important for campaign finance issues). 

Also unknown is if Price's team would try to use signature strike effort, whereby signers can withdraw their signature from the petitions (that law was adopted in 2017). This is not provided for under the old charter, but it would be interesting to see if they would try it. The existing charter also has a 10 day cure period (the language is unclear) if the signatures don't meet the requirements, so if there is a challenge, the petitioners would presumably be able to try and get more signatures. 

There are other possible challenges that could be made. Alameda Charter required that the signatures be fully counted in 10 days. The county used a statistical sampling method, which the state law for localities (though not for state-level officials) allows for the sample method, Alameda does not seem to have any such provision. Alameda's Measure B, adopting this law (full discussion of what the law does here), but it seems like it was not  operative for the counting. It's not clear to me why they were allowed to do the sampling method, but it's possible that no one will challenge, so that is that. 

There are other areas for potential lawsuits, including when the recall will actually be scheduled and whether or not there is a replacement race or instead that the Supervisors appoint a successor. This depends on whether or not Measure B or the old charter is the operative law. But let's see what happens 

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