Recall election against Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price could fall on the November ballot

OAKLAND — The Alameda County Board of Supervisors opened the door Wednesday to the recall bid against District Attorney Pamela Price failing on the November ballot.

Unfortunately for Price's opponents, the board decided to attend until May 14 to set a recall date. That gave the board the flexibleness to either call a special election for sometime between Aug. 10 and Sept. 16 or postpone it until the Nov. 5 general election.

The move raises the likelihood that a recall query with little – if any – precedent in Alameda County will appear on a ballot that features the whole lot from a rematch between the country's last two presidents to an untold variety of ballot measures and a one-off Generational race for U.S. Senate.

Several supervisors expressed a desire to take the method slowly, given the rarity of recalls in Alameda County and the way complicated the method has change into with the passage of recall election reforms in March. At least one even looked as if it would welcome legal motion to present county leaders guidance on which laws they need to apply and when.

“I would like to take this step by step,” said supervisor Lena Tam, waiting until May 14 to set a date.

“I will support this motion in the hopes that litigation will be filed so we can get clearer direction,” Supervisor Elisa Márquez added. “Because we can’t do it ourselves.”

After the meeting, Carl Chan, certainly one of the recall organizers and Oakland Chinatown leader, expressed frustration that the board had raised the likelihood that a call on the recall couldn’t be made for six months. The group he co-founded, Save Alameda For Everyone, submitted greater than 123,000 signatures to place the query on a ballot in early March and had to attend greater than a month while the voter registry counted each signature to make sure they were was valid.

In the tip, the registrar counted 74,757 valid signatures – ensuring the group would exceed the required threshold by about 1,560 after 48,617 signatures were found to be invalid.

“It is a disappointment that they are afraid to hold a special election starting today,” Chan said.

Price's campaign attorney also expressed frustration, but more with Marquez's testimony and the way the county has handled the transition between old and latest recall election laws.

“They expect Pamela to raise several hundred thousand dollars in a lawsuit,” said attorney Jim Sutton. “So why don’t (supervisors) file a lawsuit? And why doesn't anyone push her? Isn’t it the county’s duty to resolve these legal issues?”

Tim Dupuis, the county's voter registrar, cited a protracted list of budgetary and logistical concerns in expressing his preference for delaying the recall query until November. Special elections in Alameda County typically cost $15 million to $20 million, he said. And holding a special election so near a general election could force the agency to acquire latest voting equipment, since decommissioning and repairing voting machines in only a number of months is a challenge.

“We have resource needs for both elections that will be emphasized,” Dupuis told the board. “It would jeopardize our availability of resources and equipment for the consolidated election” in November.

Before the meeting, supporters and opponents of the recall shouted over one another with megaphones outside the County Administration Building in downtown Oakland, dueling chants of “Recall Price” and “We love Price.”

“Let’s make some noise for Pamela Price,” one supporter shouted right into a microphone while surrounded by signs saying, “Stop wasting our money!” and “Protect our budget!”

“The citizens have spoken,” shouted Brenda Grisham, a recall organizer. “We want Pamela Price removed sooner than later to ensure the safety of our citizens, our families and the safety of Alameda County.”

For greater than a yr, Price's opponents have been fighting the district attorney's try to overhaul the East Bay's justice system. In particular, they’ve railed against Price's decision to not impose longer prison sentences on defendants.

On Wednesday, recall supporters held signs reading “Special Election Now!” and “Your security is FREE,” while complaining to regulators that any delay in setting an election date would ignore the desires of tens of 1000’s of people that have signed on to the recall effort.

Some of the individuals who spoke to supervisors were relatives of individuals killed within the East Bay, and others felt Price had not been tough enough on crime during her 16 months in office.

“I don't understand why we have to delay this,” said one caller, John Guerrero, who added that crime “has a huge, huge impact on the community – in life, in property and certainly in business.” People want that. “

But Price's supporters questioned the recall effort coming so early in an elected official's term — particularly a measure that would cost taxpayers tens of thousands and thousands of dollars. They suggested that Price didn’t have time to completely implement her reforms.

Removing Price from office will only end in the DA's office continuing “the same arrest, re-arrest and re-incarceration cycle that we have had for 30 years, primarily affecting Black and brown communities,” one caller said , Mickey Duxbury.

Sutton went further, suggesting that supervisors had no legal authority to call an election due to concerns about how recall organizers collected signatures and the way the county's voter registry counted them.

“We believe you have a legal obligation not to move forward with the planning of this election at all,” Sutton said.

The specter of the recall falling on the November election was partly a results of newly reformed election laws that Alameda County voters approved just two months ago.

Before March 5, recall elections in Alameda County were governed by laws dating back to at the least the Nineteen Twenties that required quick scheduling of election dates. In most cases, supervisors have needed to schedule elections as early as 35 to 40 days after receiving validated signatures calling for recall.

But that each one modified through the March primary when county voters approved Measure B, opting to align the county's recall ordinances with California's recently rewritten laws. These state laws give counties two to 4 months to conduct such elections.

Importantly, the brand new laws also aim to limit the likelihood that multimillion-dollar special elections will conflict with long-scheduled general elections. Specifically, the laws open the door to a consolidation of the 2 if the recall is scheduled inside six months of a general election.

It stays unclear which election date might prove more advantageous for Price or her opponents.

“Special election voters tend to be less diverse, wealthier and far more attuned to the specific issue being voted on in a special election,” said Jason McDaniel, an associate professor of political science at San Francisco State University.

“It will be people who are primarily motivated to vote,” McDaniel said. “It’s harder to generate enthusiasm to block a recall.”

But Joshua Spivak, a senior research fellow at Berkeley Law's California Constitution Center, said his review of nearly 1,200 recall elections from 2011 to 2023 shows that in 61 percent of cases, the official facing a recall is faraway from office . The number is barely higher, at about 67%, when recall questions find yourself on the overall election ballot, while special election recalls are successful about 57% of the time, he said.

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