Signature Gatherers Being Charged With Forging Signatures On Statewide Ballot Initiatives
The Weber County District Attorney's office filed charges of forgery and violations of petition procedures against two contractors for a company called Gather. Gather is working to collect signatures to get the Utah Medical Cannabis Act and the Direct Primary Election initiatives on the ballot this November.
Ryan Cowley, Weber County Elections Director says the two people charged were being paid by the signature, and that the packets of signatures they turned in had some irregularities.
"We go through each one of those packets line-by-line and we have a human that verifies each of those signatures in the packet and compares that with the signature that we have on file and it's basically the same process that we use when we do absentee ballots," Cowley said. "How we compare the signatures and so as we were doing these packets we just noticed some irregularities and things that weren't matching up with the signatures in the database and that's what kind of led us to say hey wait a minute let's review these a little bit further and then we started to see the patterns that led us to believe it was fraud."
Court documents say contract signature-gatherers Emma Riches and Alexander Burke forged altogether nearly 500 signatures and were paid more than $2,000 for the signatures they collected.
Cowley says that the charges don't implicate the sponsors of the initiatives in question.
"It's nothing that the sponsors perpetrated or anything like that. It's just a couple of individuals that were out gathering signatures that were being paid by a company to do that. "
Six statewide initiatives are working to get on the ballot. Each needs to get 113,143 signatures to get on the November ballot.