Supporters who want to block the removal of the small cross on the Los Angeles County Seal, including churches and the Republican Party, are aiming to gather more than 170,000 registered county voters in order to put the issue on the November ballot.
David R. Hernandez, a candidate for the United States House of Representatives, is leading the campaign and expresses hope in gathering no less than 250,000 signatures to buffer any invalid signatures thrown out, reported L.A. Daily News.
"Mr. Hernandez has given the people two courses of action," read a press release. "To enable the people to vote in the November election on preserving the county seal as it is in its current state and if challenged, a day in court, all the way to the US Supreme Court."
The LA County Board of Supervisors ruled to remove the cross from the county seal under the threat of a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which believes that the cross is a Christian symbol that violates the First Amendment.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles refuted such claims by the ACLU. In a letter written to the supervisors, Mahony wrote that removing the cross would "deny the historical record" of the importance of Catholic missions in the county's early history.
Although some 2,000 protesters supported the cross outside the hearing and a crowd of people testified before the Board in favor of the cross on June 8, the supervisors ignored the people's desire vote on the issue and denied their request of including the topic on the ballot.
Petitions must be submitted no later than August to be placed on this year's November 2nd ballot, said officials with county Registrar-Recorder's Office. The next available election if the petitions do not make the deadline would be the statewide primary in March 2006.
According to LA Daily Press, if 341,212 valid signatures are collected, the Board of Supervisors must either approve a county ordinance keeping the cross on the seal or to call for a special county-wide election in the near future.
The website for downloading online petition forms, www.ourfirstamendment.org, reported on June 29 that the LA County Counsel has approved the documents for the petition drive and has prepared a Ballot Title and Summary.
Petitions forms will be available for download as soon as they are prepared. Promotional attire and materials to support the campaign are also under development.