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New Orleans Mayor files suit against Louisiana Secretary of State, alleges unconstitutional use of power in recall effort

By Kylee BondKenny Lopez,

2023-03-14

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NEW ORLEANS ( WGNO ) — New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has filed a lawsuit against Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, alleging that he unconstitutionally negotiated a settlement with NOLATOYA campaign leaders in an effort to remove the mayor from office.

Earlier this month, it was decided in court that roughly 25,000 Orleans Parish voters originally listed as active will be listed as inactive. That ended up lowering the number of signatures needed for the recall petition — something NOLATOYA organizers Eileen Carter and Belden Batiste called a win.

RELATED | Secretary of State says another layer of verifying voters is needed amid counting of signatures for LaToya Cantrell recall effort

Cantrell’s attorneys Marion Floyd and Ron Wilson filed a petition to vacate, or otherwise invalidate, the final judgment made by Ardoin’ to lower the signature count.

Floyd says Orleans Parish has more than 100-thousand electors. He says according to law, the number the recall should need is 25 percent of those electors. While recall organizers argued they only need 20 percent.

“A settlement was reached similar to a personal injury case and in this instance there is no room in the law for a consent, the number is what the number is. There is no room for interpretation,” Floyd said.

Additionally, the mayor’s legal team has asked for a writ of mandamus, calling on the Secretary of State to show by what authority he negotiated a settlement with recall organizers. Lawyers believe Ardoin did not have the power to make the change to the signature count, alleging that he essentially re-wrote the law that sets the standards for recall elections in Louisiana.

Advisor to Mayor Cantrell, Bill Rouselle said, “This is a system of laws and at the end of the day, we are hoping to make sure the system works fairly.”

WGNO reached out to the Secretary of State’s office for comment and they said they are currently reviewing the filings.

Recall leaders say they stand by Ardoin’s decision to move the 25,000 voters from the active rolls, saying that the New Orleans public deserves the truth.

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