County says dead people signed Gascón recall petition

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

County election officials Wednesday asked the state Attorney General's Office to review alleged irregularities in the collection of petition signatures in a recent effort to recall District Attorney George Gascón and in support of a state ballot initiative, saying they found evidence that dead people were among the petition signers.

"Based on our review of two recent petitions — one a countywide recall petition and the other a statewide initiative petition — my office has identified irregularities that suggest the possibility of fraudulent signature submission that I believe may warrant investigation," Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said in a statement.

According to Logan's office, a review of the petitions submitted in a failed attempt to recall Gascón last year determined that 367 of the submitted signatures were those of people who had died before the signature-gathering period even began.

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On a separate petition last year in support of a state ballot initiative aimed at limiting the taxation ability of state and local governments, the county allegedly found 344 signatures of people who were dead before the petitioning process had begun.

According to Logan's office, election officials found "commonality in the circulators between the two petitions."

"The integrity of these processes is fundamental to our representative form of government and influences the confidence and participation of our electorate," Logan said. "Attempts to compromise the integrity of this process ought to be scrutinized."

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The Gascón recall effort fell short last year, with the county determining that organizers had submitted only 520,050 valid petition signatures, well short of the required 566,857.

Organizers of the recall had submitted a total of 715,833 petition signatures to the county Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office in an effort to force Gascón into a recall election. County officials initially conducted a random sampling of the signatures to verify their validity. Based on that initial sampling, the county undertook an effort to verify all 715,833 signatures individually.

The county later announced that 195,783 of the signatures were invalid. In many cases, the person signing the petition was not a registered voter, and there were also more than 45,000 duplicate signatures, according to the county.

Recall organizers filed a legal challenge to the decision, but the case remains pending and unlikely to change the outcome of the petition drive prior to next year's regular election cycle.