Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ballot Signature Fraud at UCSB

Several readers today emailed me about a story that has already been reported at The Daily Kos. It turns out that paid signature gatherers are duping students at UCSB with a series of nefarious initiatives separated by a rubber band and assurances that one needs to sign the original initiative four times and that the other pieces of paper they sign have nothing to do with the first.

Arno Political Consultants should be sued for hiring, training and sending out initiative gatherers that don't understand the rights of voters. In the past, they have tricked Florida college kids into registering Republican and saying an electoral ballot initiative was an anti-war initiative. Perhaps worst was telling Massachusetts voters that an anti-gay initiative was actually an initiative that would allow wine to be sold in grocery stores. Yuck.

Community Post by a Dedicated Reader

So today I witnessed what I think is an incidence of ballot initiative fraud relating to the electoral vote apportionment initiative. Outside the UCEN (student center) at UC Santa Barbara, there were a number of people with cardboard clipboards soliciting people to sign ballot petitions for a proposal to spend $1 billion on cancer hospitals for kids. If you agree to sign, they tell you "you need to sign 4 times." What they do not tell you is that the three pages after the ballot initiative on concern hospitals are different ballot intiatives: the second proposes to abolish eminent domain, the third proposals to abolish rent control, and the fourth is the proposal to apportion California's electoral votes by district (the so-called Dirty Tricks Initiative).

I should note that the clipboard is arranged such that a rubber band holding the petitions to the cardboard is positioned on the top of the page, across the actual ballot language in question - thus, partially hiding the text of the ballot initiatives on pages 2-4 unless you actually stop and pull down the top of the page.

I agreed to sign the cancer initiative, but the comment about signing four times raised a red flag, because I'm familiar with the structure of ballot petitions, so I paused before signing and looked at the other initiatives.

However, I'm absolutely sure that most of the people signing, young college students on a rush to get their lunches and off to class, did not take this step.

What they are doing is getting people to sign for ballot initiatives without their knowledge or informed consent, using young peoples' desire to do a good thing and their lack of familiarity with the legal paperwork of initiative petitions. If this is not illegal it is certainly deeply unethical. The moment I realized what was going on, I told the petitioners that they shouldn't be telling people to sign for ballot initiatives they're not aware of. Immediately after, I called the school newspaper, the Daily Nexus, the Courage Campaign, the Santa Barbara Democratic Central Committee, and the California Democratic Party. I have also contacted
the Secretary of State to report this.

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Anonymous David Pritchett said...

Yep, a couple of days ago I saw them there at UCSB with their quadruplicate fake petitions.

Unfortunately I did not have my video camera at the time.

11/15/2007 11:38 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

and the politician and lawyers wonder why they have such bad reps and approval ratings.

Read an interesting "study" today about people who view themselves as having high moral character seem to cheat alot more. Something about how they feel they're so right it's ok to cheat to save time and energy and basicly just get their way.

As long as they "believe" stongly enough in doing the right thing, it doesn't matter what they actually do.

The perfect example is politicians and religeous types who publicly espouse some extreme view and then in private do the opposite.

In this case, probably just plain greed. Maybe these petitioners get paid by the signature?

11/16/2007 12:16 AM  
Anonymous phalarope said...

They're in Ventura, too.
A youngish guy near Ventura City College asked me to sign a petition "to build more children's hospitals" about a week ago. After I read and signed that petition and started to walk away, he asked me if I would sign 3 more. When he told me what each of them were, I refused and told him I liked the status quo in those areas. He became angry and started to follow me to my car, telling me that a friend of his had lost his place of residence in Ventura when a developer bought the land under his friend's rental. I told him that this was not an eminent domain issue at all, but one of private enterprise, and that while I really felt bad for his friend -- having suffered a similar fate in the early 80s -- I remembered all of the pitfalls in last year's Prop 90 and didn't trust Eminent Domain initiatives in general. I asked him who was behind all of his petitions, and he told me he didn't know -- he was just a paid signature gatherer. I continued to walk to my car, and he continued to follow me. I turned and told him that I had signed one of his petitions and that I now regretted having done that, and that if he didn't leave me alone I was going to call the cops. Even at that he hung on for a few more seconds, searching for something more to say while I just stared at him. Finally he turned and walked away. A little spooky. It reminded me of a time (1985) when I had gotten buttonholed by a LaRouchie who tried to get me to sign a petition to "save the dolphins", and then became extremely abusive when I wouldn't sign her other petitions.

11/16/2007 9:08 AM  
Blogger jqb said...

and the politician and lawyers wonder why they have such bad reps and approval ratings

This isn't about "politician and lawyers", it's about one despicable -- and predictably right wing -- organization perpetrating election fraud.

In this case, probably just plain greed.

No, it's not plain greed, it's right wing politics -- all three of the hidden initiatives are items being hugely pushed by right wingers, in California and elsewhere, as Arno Political Consultants has done repeatedly in that past.

Maybe these petitioners get paid by the signature?

Yes: Arno instructs their petitioners how to cheat, and then pays them per signature to encourage them to do so. They did so in Oregon in violation of Oregon's law against it, and purportedly no longer do business there.

Here are some links about these slimeballs:

11/16/2007 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whats wrong with a few dirty tricks.
The democrats appear do it all the time as S.O.P. ( standard operating procedure)

11/16/2007 10:50 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"No, it's not plain greed, it's right wing politics"

I'm sorry, I miss the distinction.

11/16/2007 7:14 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"Whats wrong with a few dirty tricks.
The democrats appear do it all the time as S.O.P. ( standard operating procedure)"

and the politician and lawyers wonder why they have such bad reps and approval ratings.

Of course, a years long witch hunt culminating in an impeachment doesn't actually rise to the level of dirty now does it?

A real dirty trick would be to hold the current administration guilty of squandering an entire generations wealth on a foreign adventure and then failing miserably at it...and then accusing you of being unpatriotic for calling them on it.

11/16/2007 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Democrat said...

OK, so what are the SOP dirty tricks done by Democrats?

Or is this swipe just another by Nelville Flynn?

11/16/2007 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask and you shall receive: Dirty Tricks by Democrats

11/17/2007 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am one of the petitioners in question that was in the Arbor gathering signatures on the walkway in front of the library on Wednesday. This problem started when some petitioners (who are all independent contractors) in front of the UCen supposedly were having people sign four times for children's hospitals, when there really were 4 seperate issues. Notice the word independent. All of us are seperate and none of this reflects on APC. Anyone one can have this job, because it is a citizen's right to petition the government. Because we get paid some petitioners do this just for the money, and they don't really care about the issues. The Daily Nexus blamed the petioners in the Arbor (which were only Joe and I) in the Bold front page headline. Because they couldn't get the names of the petitioners that were guilty, the Daily Nexus used "Joe" as a pawn. I was on a break when this all happened. I worked next to Joe the whole week, and never once did I ever see or hear of him do anything illegal. I know him personally and he would never do anything like that. I can't speak for any of the others on campus, because I am not their supervisor, and I have not watched them work. There were many petitioners throughout campus that day, so saying that all of us are shady individuals is biased and prejudiced. The students at UCSB should not let this incident give them a feeling that all petioners are out to "trick" them. There are some "bad seeds" in the petition world that mess things up for us good guys. Always read at least the opening sentence at the top of everthing you are signing, so you can't be duped from now on. On behalf of the honest petitioners, Thank You to all that have signed for us, and be safe with your petition signing in the future...

11/17/2007 12:17 PM  
Anonymous wineguy said...

This should be considered a serious offense, and the perpetrator(s) should be prosecuted. It is a total perversion of the democratic process to obtain signatures fraudulently.

11/17/2007 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon 12:17

Would you be willing to let any of us remove our signiture from your petition?

11/17/2007 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was petitioning on campus this last week too and would like to add my perspective to this discussion.
first i want to thank you all for not being apathetic like the vast majority of the tens of thousands of college students ive registered to vote and provided with the opportunity to participate in state politics in the last 10 years of participating in the iniative process.
its great to see that you'll be helping get rid of the bad apples.
unfortunately i see a little bit of intellectual laziness occuring also.
due to the fact that petitioners are paid political activists, some people see it as just a job and really should not be hired. they dont truly care about the issues and signers pick up on that attitude and rightfully resent it.
however, many of us are simply happy to have a job that allows us to make a living making a difference. we take pride in our issues and represent them accurately so that signers remember to vote and complete the process. what good is a million signatures if no one knows what they signed for? if the issue gets on the ballot but no one knows about it ahead of time the chances of getting the majority support of the states voters is greatly reduced.
please remember that if and when you speak about petitioners - dont use prejudicial language. we work independantly of each other and should be judged individually.

keep in mind the fact that we choose the issues we present. if i disagree with one i am legally allowed to refuse to include it at my table and am protected from any possible repercussions from my employers.

many great laws have been passed through the ballot iniative process and Californians should be supportive and appreciative of it. APC, who i dont work for, should not be judged collectively for the sleazy techniques of a few arrogant idiots. thats like condemming a resturaunt because you had an asshole for a waiter. and to judge the entire activist community of California petitioners based on the actions of a few of its members is like condemming the entire resturaunt industry because you had an asshole for a waiter.
please wait to form your opinions untill you interact with us individually.
i'll let my identity be known once i see that the witch-hunt is over and people are prepared to be impartial.
-anonymous activist

11/17/2007 7:44 PM  
Blogger MCConfrontation said...

to anonymous signature gatherers: thankyou for putting in your two cents.

JQB, out to smear the right wingers with his Daily Kos inspired ranting, fails again. Shocking.

11/19/2007 4:07 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

"Whats wrong with a few dirty tricks.
The democrats appear do it all the time as S.O.P. ( standard operating procedure)"

This absurd hypocritical tu quoque logic is typical right wingism -- documented unethical behavior by right wingers is justified by unsubstantiated claims that "the democrats" do it too.

And anyone claiming that this election fraud has nothing to do with APC is clearly lying -- APC has repeatedly been implicated in exactly the same sort of fraud.

11/21/2007 4:43 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

"There were many petitioners throughout campus that day, so saying that all of us are shady individuals is biased and prejudiced"

No one said that all petitioners are shady individuals; only those who committed election fraud, or through company policy directed people to commited election fraud (as APC does), are shady individuals.

11/21/2007 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow to the snake republican, when you are pulled over for speeding, do you whine about the other person speeding?

On a serious note, this is solved simply by coordinating via the internet and holding up signs informing the public about their intentions.

Report everything here:

or simply post on this blog. As a Goleta resident, I am shocked this happened a few miles from me, if it happens again, I'll be there in force.

11/25/2007 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Common Sense said...

Honestly people, who in their right mind puts their signature and address multiple times without reading what they are signing? I guess we don't have to wonder why anyone would get an interest only loan anymore do we? Didn't your mama teach you to read what you sign? Lol, then you blame the petitioner for your ignorance.
In the end, so what? You just helped put another boring ballot measure on the ballot for people to democratically vote in or squash. On the obvious side, if they lied to you on the streets and you didn't take the time to read what you signed (your fault), they cant lie on the ballot summary when you go to vote. Anyone remember that year when all the Schwarzenegger propositions came out? How many of them passed? Zero. Makes me happy knowing the pubs spent allllll that money for nothing :D
I signed the good eminent domain petition, not the one that aims to get rid of rent control (yes there are 2). As for the others, if I'm not sure or the summary is too vague, I don't sign. So I didn't.
There seems to be some very angry people on this blog. my suggestion to you is to shy away from chastising a few petitioners offering you a chance to participate in the California democratic process (just because they are visible and accessible) and send a letter to bush, donate to your favorite candidate, etc. make a real difference.

Thank you.

12/03/2007 2:18 PM  

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