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July 19, 2011 > Fraudulent signature bill passes Assembly

Fraudulent signature bill passes Assembly

Submitted By Andrew LaMar

Legislation designed to reduce fraud in signature gathering by prohibiting payment on a per-signature basis passed the Assembly on July 14, 2011, and was sent to the Governor's desk.

Senate Bill 168 by Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro) makes it a misdemeanor for a person to pay or receive money or any other thing of value for collecting signatures on a state or local initiative, referendum or recall petition based on the number of signatures collected.

"This is about protecting the integrity of California's initiative process," Corbett said. "Bounty payments to signature gatherers on a per-signature basis only serve to increase the temptation to commit fraud."

Secretary of State Debra Bowen has endorsed the legislation. The Secretary of State's Election Fraud Investigation Unit opened 240 cases for falsifying petitions that resulted in 33 convictions between 1994 and 2010.

The bill is sponsored by the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a national organization dedicated to improving the ballot measure system across the country and supported by the California Labor Federation, the California Professional Firefighters and local governments.

"This is one of the first significant reforms to California's ballot-measure laws in years," said Justine Sarver, executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. "Bounty payments create a powerful incentive to collect bogus signatures, while a daily or hourly wage discourages fraud and ensures that everyone has equal access to the initiative process, not just those who can afford a sizable bounty."

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