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LA County DA: election fraudsters pay homeless cigarettes, money for ballot signatures




Trash lies beside the Skid Row City Limit mural as the city begins its annual homeless count in Los Angeles, California on January 26, 2018.
Trash lies beside the Skid Row City Limit mural as the city begins its annual homeless count in Los Angeles, California on January 26, 2018.
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

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The L.A. County District Attorney’s office announced Tuesday it’s pursuing charges against nine petition gatherers who allegedly paid people living on Skid Row to sign fake names on petitions for state initiatives and voter registration forms.

Prosecutors say these gatherers asked for hundreds of false or forged signatures, and those who agreed were offered $1 bills or cigarettes for signing.

The offenses occurred during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, when the amount petition gatherers in California could make per signature was much higher than it had been in the past. Usually, payment starts at about $1 per name – but in 2016, some initiatives paid $5 each. Depending on the amount of initiatives working to get on the ballot in a given year, gatherers can earn to $8 per name, according to The New York Times.

So how can petition gathering firms protect against fraudulent signatures? And if the defendants are found guilty, what does this mean for the initiatives they worked on in 2016 and 2018?

We reached out to the LA County District Attorney’s Office, which said that they are not granting interviews on the case at this time.

Guests:

Fred Kimball, president of Kimball Petition Management, a signature gathering firm based in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Larry N. Gerston, a professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State University and author of many books, including “Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California” (CRC Press, 2012)