Campaign accuses Sawant of ‘co-opting process’ by gathering signatures for her own recall

Jul 14, 2021, 12:14 PM | Updated: 3:15 pm
Sawant signatures recall...
A flyer in defense of Kshama Sawant in the wake of a recall campaign. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

Controversy surrounding the effort to recall Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant continued to deepen this week, after the campaign accused Sawant and her supporters of attempting to co-opt and obscure the signature gathering process.

Sawant now urging supporters to collect signature to force recall vote

The recall campaign needs to gather 10,739 verified signatures from District 3 voters within a 180-day period in order to get on the ballot for the next scheduled election. That number constitutes 25% of total votes cast in the last election for the district’s council seat in 2019.

While the group has until mid-October before its window expires, a recent fundraising mailer indicated that it was hoping to meet an Aug. 1 deadline to make the November election ballot, and that it had already gathered over 9,000 signatures.

Sawant then called a press conference late last week, claiming that the campaign was actually aiming for a lower-turnout special election early in 2022, and accusing it of seeking to suppress the will of District 3 voters. That saw her urging supporters to begin gathering signatures for the recall in order to make November’s ballot, under the assumption that the higher turnout election will attract larger quantities of progressive voters.

Now, with Sawant pushing to gather signatures for her own recall, the recall campaign has in turned filed a complaint with King County Elections, while accusing her of “co-opting the official Recall Committee and its signature-gathering process.”

The complaint — filed by the recall’s lawyers earlier this week — cites concerns that Sawant and her supporters are “confusing the voters and may be planning to not turn [the signatures they gather] over to the recall committee.”

Kshama Sawant recall group targets November election

Mirroring Sawant’s own accusations, the campaign claims it is her supporters who are trying to suppress voters, and that it believes “third parties” may be disposing of signatures they’ve gathered.

While the recall’s lawyers say that they “welcome her assistance” in moving the effort forward, campaign manager Henry Bridger claims that the group has “already received tainted petitions from Sawant supporters with fictitious names and fraudulent signatures.”

The complaint asks King County Elections and/or the King County Prosecutor’s Office to inform Sawant that signatures “must be formally validated and submitted” by the recall campaign.

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Campaign accuses Sawant of ‘co-opting process’ by gathering signatures for her own recall