Signatures stall on Recall Dunleavy effort
March 19, 2020
After a busy first two weeks gathering roughly 380 signatures in Haines, the Recall Dunleavy campaign ground to a halt on Tuesday as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to ripple through the nation. The central office in Anchorage sent out an email requesting a “full pause on signature-gathering efforts statewide,” local recall campaign volunteer Anne Marie Palmieri said. “We are going to follow that instruction.”
The nature of recall campaign activities has been changing rapidly over the course of the past week as federal, state and local governments have issued new COVID-19 guidelines. Prior to the complete cessation of signature-gathering activities, recall volunteers in Haines had been encouraging people to call to schedule one-on-one signing opportunities rather than staff a dwindling number of public gatherings.
People were reaching out via email, phone and social media, and “we were connecting them with a signature gatherer in their area,” Palmieri said.
“We have seen a recent decline in the number of signatures gathered per day,” Palmieri said. “I don’t know if that’s due to the virus or because we made such a concerted push in the first several weeks that most of the people interested in signing have signed.” People returning to the community after winter travels could increase demand for signing opportunities, she said in an interview prior to the announcement of a signature-gathering pause. However, those returning to Haines who are interested in signing will have to wait until the recall campaign resumes activities.
Once efforts resume, Palmieri said local volunteers plan to gather signatures “until we are told to stop or everybody in Haines who wants to sign has signed.”
While social-distancing measure remain in place, Palmieri said she and other volunteers will still be going to places like the grocery store and will not turn people away who ask to sign.
After two weeks of signature gathering, Recall Dunleavy reported it had obtained 21,678 signatures statewide. It will need 71,252 valid signatures from registered Alaska voters in order to trigger a recall election.
The Anchorage office had been planning to turn in signatures by April 1, Palmieri said, a goal that is now impossible.