County clerk rejects second Hanson recall petition
Hanson said the effort to recall him, which began nearly a year ago after the Lassen County Board of Supervisors voted to terminate its contract with County Administrative Officer Tom Stone, “has been more than just a distraction. Hopefully, we can continue to get along and do the people’s business.”Ironically, the recall campaign may have collected enough signatures to force a recall election, but most of the signatures were collected on a form that was not approved — and therefore cannot be counted.
In a written statement issued Monday, May 14, Lassen County Clerk Julie Bustamante explained. She said she received the recall petition in her office the afternoon of Thursday, May 10.
“At first glance it looked as though a sufficient number of signatures were received to move forward with a special recall election. The prima facie count looked to be 754 signatures, and only 568 qualified signatures were needed,” Bustamante wrote.
However, upon closer examination, Bustamante said she discovered three pages were circulated before the date the petition was “approved to form” by her on March 9.
Bustamante said the declaration of the person circulating these sections indicated the signatures were collected between March 3 and 5. It was also noted those sections of the petition were actually copies of the petition she rejected on March 5 instead of the final petition form approved March 9.
Bustamante cited Elections Code 11042 (d), which reads, “No signatures may be affixed to a recall petition until the elections official has notified the proponents that the form and wording of the proposed petition meets the requirements.”
In addition, Bustamante said, “Upon closer examination I discovered an additional 70 sections of this petition were also copied from the March 5, 2012, rejected petition. In accordance with statewide procedures, these sections cannot be accepted for filing and the signatures attached cannot be included in the raw count.
“Only 22 sections of this petition were copied from the March 9 approved petition. After examining these sections and conducting a raw count, I have determined that they contain a total of 143 signatures, prima facie, which does not meet the minimum number of 568, which is required to file this petition. Therefore I am declaring the remaining portion of the petition insufficient.”
Recall proponent Tom Hammond, who said he would run against Hanson if the recall campaign qualified, said the recall committee did not collect signatures early — an allegation he said was a “false statement.”
According to Hammond, Felix Flores, one of the recall proponents, simply wrote the wrong date on three forms containing a total of 26 signatures.
In a May 15 letter, Hammond and the recall proponents asked Bustamante to reconsider her decision to declare the recall petitions insufficient and accept the signatures collected on an unapproved from.
Bustamante said she did not have the authority to accept signatures collected on an unapproved form, but she would if a judge ordered her to accept them.
“I did not make the decision to declare the petition insufficient lightly,” Bustamante wrote. “I consulted with my county counsel, my colleagues and legal counsel in the secretary of state’s office. We all came to the same conclusion, the California Elections Code specifically prohibits me from accepting signatures that were attached to an unapproved form; doing so would not only be unethical but illegal.
“When I relayed the information to the California Secretary of State’s elections Counsel Robbie Anderson that you want me to ‘reconsider’ my decision, he said, ‘The code specifically prohibits that.’”
Hammond said the committee plans to issue a statement soon, but it was not available at deadline.
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