Counties counting recall petitions

July 15, 2003 12:00 am

By ABBY SOUZA

and The Associated Press

Like their counterparts around California, clerks and election offices in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties are busy counting and verifying petitions for the recall of Gov. Gray Davis.

More than 6 percent of the 29,914 registered voters in Tuolumne County have signed petitions to oust the Democratic governor from office, said Assistant County Auditor-Controller Deborah Russell.

In Calaveras County, closer to 10 percent of the 24,871 registered voters have signed the petitions that have been actively circulated around the state in recent months, Elections Supervisor Sandy Rader said.

Getting the recall on the ballot requires 897,158 valid signatures statewide. Recall groups like Rescue California yesterday announced they had gathered 1.6 million signatures, though that number has yet to be verified.

The Tuolumne County Clerk's Office staff has found that only 850 of the 1,897 signatures turned in to that office are valid, meaning just under 3 percent of the county's registered voters have legally signed a petition.

"We had some that were not from our county, some were duplicates and some weren't registered voters," Russell said.

Calaveras County is still verifying the petitions, Rader said, so she could not say how many of the 2,518 turned-in signatures are valid.

Calaveras County has hired an extra person to verify its signatures, Rader said.

Everyone in the Tuolumne County Clerk's Office has been handling the recall signatures, verifying them as they come in, Russell said.

"We check to see if they are registered voters, have signed and printed their name, have a physical address," Russell said. "It's not too big of a workload."

Once signatures are counted, officials from each county will call in their results to the secretary of state, but keep the actual petitions.