NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— The Mayor recall petition is now in the hands of the Orleans Parish Registrar’s Office, where they have begun counting and verifying the signatures.

Orleans Parish Registrar Sandra Wilson and her staff have twenty business days to finish counting the signatures before a recall election could take place.

“We’ve never had a recall before, so that’s a huge deal,” Clerk of Criminal Court and Chief Elections Officer Darren Lombard said.

Lombard says his office is prepared to handle a recall election if it gets to that point.

“We are charged with following the law. It is clear how this process goes and we are going to follow the law,” he said.

Lombard says the first step is the verification of the signatures from the Registrar of Voters. If in fact there are enough signatures then Governor John Bel Edwards has 15 days to declare there will be an election, but it is unknown whether there will be a special election or if it will be placed on the ballot in the Governor election in the Fall.

“It could become a very contentious controversial election that could draw a lot of attention,” he said.

He says Mayor LaToya Cantrell has the right to demand a recount if an election is held and voters vote her out.

“I’m sure she’ll have advocates putting out her message as well to discourage people from voting for that recall,” he said.

Lombard expects high voter turnout for a recall election. Even more voters could show up to the polls than they did for Mayor Cantrell’s re-election.

“It could be higher due to this being a very polarizing situation,” he said.

And timing could play a role in the outcome—something recall organizers recognize and that’s why they want a special election.

“The faster that they have it, the more interest they will have in the election,” Lombard said.