Democrats & Liberals Archives

Read What Your Signing; You May Be Signing Your Rights Away

Recently, the Massachusetts Secretary of State certified 123,356 signatures from registered voters to put a same-sex marriage ban before state voters. That is twice the number required to get the measure on the ballot and breaks a 20-year-old record for the most certified signatures ever gathered in support of a proposed ballot question. If the measure is passed by at least 25 percent of the Legislature in two successive sessions, the measure will appear on the ballot in November 2008.

One of the many problems with all this is that registered voters who signed the petition thought they were either signing a petition that would allow grocery stores to sell wine or a petition to protect gay marriage, when it was actually an anti-gay marriage petition.

Massachusetts Family Institute which is the sponsor of the amendment, hired Arno Political Consultants to gather signatures. The company, with a history of using fraudulent tactics, paid their signature gatherers by the signature. Some could make up to $1200 dollars a day.

The bait and switch scam happened outside Massachusetts grocery stores. Petition workers would ask shoppers to sign a petition to allow all grocery stores in Massachusetts sell wine. After voters signed the wine petition, the signature taker would ask them to sign a backup copy. That backup copy was actually a petition to put a same-sex marriage ban on the ballot. Tens of thousands of signatures may have been collected fraudulently. Possibly many of those signatures are from the very people who have the most to lose from the measure, Gays and Lesbians.

Attorney General Tom Reilly says he is powerless to do anything about the fraud and won't seek charges against Arno. He went on to say, "perhaps we should pass some laws against it." Do you think?

The website has posted the names and addresses of all 123,356 people who signed the petition. Those that signed the petition thinking they were signing it for another purpose, can fill out a 'fraud affidavit" offered on the website.

This is the latest in a long line of voter fraud cases that have been popping up over the past several years. This week, California announced that it will not recertify Diebold AccuVote touch-screen machines until they have been tested and certified by Federal authorities. They have also threatened to decertify machines made by ES&S. California joins other states including North Carolina and Missouri in decertifying the Diebold voting machines. Security problems with the machines in Florida have also caused counties there to decertify the machines, and Gov. Jeb Bush is supporting a review of the machines in that state.

The problems for Diebold stem from a security flaw that was discovered before the 2004 elections that would allow a hacker to gain access and change votes. The security flaw may have been exploited by hackers.

It is no wonder voter turnout is so low when we hear stories like this. "We the People" is meaningless in this country until we enact tough legislation against fraudulent petition gathering and put into place a voting system that is secure, reliable and accurate.

Posted by JayJay Snow at December 23, 2005 8:00 PM
Comment #106971

The knowthyneigbor site is an outrage. Why publish those names. So that people can harass them? I have signed petitions for things I personally don’t agree with because I felt they should be discussed openly. I support gay marriage, but I would have signed that petition, since I also believe in democracy.

Some pro gay marriage groups have been very agressive in bothering opponents. I doubt if this list is primarily meant to help people who may have signed in error. It is an intimidation.

Posted by: Jack at December 24, 2005 12:08 AM
Comment #106972


I thought that too when I saw that. I wondered how that was legal, but apparently it is a matter of public record. knowthyneigbor just posted this list a couple days ago, I have not heard of any public outcry about it, but it may come as people become aware of it.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 24, 2005 12:13 AM
Comment #106980
The website has posted the names and addresses of all 123,356 people who signed the petition. Those that signed the petition thinking they were signing it for another purpose, can fill out a ‘fraud affidavit’ offered on the website.

The site posting the names of those that signed the petition is a pro-marriage-for-all site. Naturally they want those who would never dream of signing an anti-gay marriage petition to fill out the onsite affidavit to object to the use of petition fraud to obtain their signature. The names are PUBLIC RECORD.

Sounds reasonable to me…I would certainly want to know if my signature on a petition was fraudulently obtained! What I find incredible is that there is NO law against such despicable behavior. The intolerant bigots KNEW they would have a difficult time getting predominantly liberal Massachusetts voters to sign for such a discriminatory law or amendment, so they used deception to get the necessary signatures. These same zealots are falling short of the needed signatures in California to put the same type of anti-marriage-for-all proposition on the ballot. They’re getting desperate in their campaign to continue telling us how to live, think, have sex, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and die (thanks to Joe Bageant for that line). Deception is nothing more than a tool for these egotistical demagogues to use in their efforts in doing their “Lord’s work”.

I am almost embarassed to admit to being a Christian, for these fundamentalists have tainted and bastardized the teachings of Christ, twisting them to advance their own self-righteous “moral” agendas. I wish they would just concern themselves with going to heaven with Jesus and leave the rest of us alone to live our lives. Most if not all believe that we “amoral/immoral” people are going to suffer ghastly torments and torturous deaths at the hand of their Lord anyway…why can’t they just be satisfied with that?!

Posted by: Gnostic Guru at December 24, 2005 1:07 AM
Comment #106989
Sounds reasonable to me…I would certainly want to know if my signature on a petition was fraudulently obtained!


I agree with you, people should have a way to know if they were the victims of fraud. My only question is the need to publish the addresses.

What I find incredible is that there is NO law against such despicable behavior. The intolerant bigots KNEW they would have a difficult time getting predominantly liberal Massachusetts voters to sign for such a discriminatory law or amendment, so they used deception to get the necessary signatures.

IMO, with such widespread fraud none of the signatures should have been certified, and the people responsible for commiting these frauds should be charged.

I agree with the rest of your comments. Live and let live.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 24, 2005 2:18 AM
Comment #106990

Gnostic Guru:

Don’t be ashamed of being Christian. Instead, do what these (Neocons) folks are asking Muslims to do.(other than to submit to our bombs) Rise up against the radicals. Speak out, tell them they are wrong in their perverted views.

I am so dumbfounded that so-called Christians will judge their own when the Bible they hold dearly speaks harshly of those who do.

Posted by: MyPetGoat at December 24, 2005 2:19 AM
Comment #106993

For those who are concerned about the corporate sellout of the ballot box, and actually want their votes counted, and counted accurately, these sites will be of further interest to you:


ONLY WITH CONSUMER KNOWLEDGE AND DEMANDS FOR AN ACCURATE, IMPREGNABLE VOTING SYSTEM—COMPLETE WITH A PAPER “TRAIL” (did you know that you cannot have a recount with the current paperless electronic voting machine?)! The “security problems” mentioned in JJ’s post was a test election that proved Diebold LIED TO EVERYBODY ABOUT THE INABILITY TO HACK INTO THEIR MACHINES AND SWITCH THE VOTES!

A test election was run in Leon County with a total of eight ballots. Six ballots voted “no” and two ballots voted “yes”.

A “zero report” was run indicating zero votes on the memory card. In fact, however, Hursti had secretly pre-loaded the memory card with plus and minus votes.

Correct results should have been: Yes:2 ; No:6

However, just as Hursti had planned, the results tape read: Yes:7 ; No:1

After the results were uploaded onto the central tabulator—a step cited by Diebold as a protection against memory card hacking—the central tabulator failed to notice that the voting machines had been hacked.
The results in the central tabulator read:

Yes:7 ; No:1

This hack requires a moderate level of inside access. It is, however, accomplished without being given any password and with the same level of access given thousands of poll workers across the USA. It is a particularly dangerous exploit, because it changes votes in a one-step process that will not be detected in any normal canvassing procedure.

Read the Rep. John Conyers reports on his investigation of irregularities and disenfranchisement in the 2004 election. Voting in Bush’s Amerika has turned into something reminiscent of the election of a Third-world dictator.

Posted by: Gnostic Guru at December 24, 2005 2:38 AM
Comment #107013

I was so disheartened when, in November, I walked in and saw the voting machines for the first time. Clearly, and proudly on the top of each voting machine was the insignia “Diebold”.
I cast my vote insecurley figuring it didn’t really matter….Diebold’s got it covered.
Ironically, one of the issues to be voted on was a ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns… failed with a 1/3 vote.

Fraud is fraud. Whether you’re signing a peition or playing Diebold video games.

Posted by: MyPetGoat at December 24, 2005 3:58 AM
Comment #107046

I scanned the list to see if any family members had signed such a petition.sure enough. And he is PO’d. He thought it was the beer wine thing. So now he has to send in the fraud alert. Same thing is happening in FL. got a letter about how they were so pleased with my telephone survey answers and how important it was to help “take the country” back from those godless liberals. Not that I ever took the survey. Am having div of elections send a complaint form Gotta get these bastards spewing hate and having to lie to boot. i’m told that these ballot initiatives are set up individually in the different states, but there is an umbrella org in COLO overseeing everything, very deep pockets with tentacles reaching out to many of the anti- “everything but our theocratic ideology” groups.

Posted by: synecdoche at December 24, 2005 6:02 AM
Comment #107051

Jack, how is signing a public document known to be for public purposes a form of intimidation? Your logic escapes me.

If I sign a public petition, I fully expect my name to appear publicly in all kinds of places. I even hope that is the case. Afterall, I signed the petition to make my voice heard on the issue.

Intimidation? What an illogical interpretation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 24, 2005 6:39 AM
Comment #107083

“I support gay marriage, but I would have signed that petition, since I also believe in democracy”. How can you support gay marriage, yet also advocate a petition outlawing them? If the petition had been to introduce a ban on hetero marriages, would you have signed that as well?
Too many people have developed an attitue of “I don’t like it, so you can’t do it”. Were the liberals to start introducing laws to ban the beliefs or behaviours of conservatives, the conservatives would be crying foul at the top of their lungs. Have you ever considered that our guaranteed freedom OF religion, also includes freedom FROM religion. Just because one religion believes something, doesn’t mean everyone has to believe it. Of all the religions practiced in the United States, the only ones that seem to have a problem with gays, are the Christian ones (but then they have a major problem with anyone that doesn’t believe the same as them).

Posted by: Jon at December 24, 2005 10:17 AM
Comment #107090

Read what you’re signing, too.

Posted by: Nicole at December 24, 2005 10:55 AM
Comment #107102

If the signers of the petition were purchasing a product (which in a broad sense they were) we would say Caveat Emptor.

Who signs a document without checking it out first?

In the 2004 Presidential Election 2,877,909 people voted in Massachusetts. Since this is approximately the 50% figure that generally applies nationwide to age eligible voters, there are an additional 2,877,909 age eligible voters who did not vote.

According to the article, 123,356 signatures were certified to get the same sex marriage issue on the ballot and, only half that number is needed (61,678). Then, if the measure is passed by a mere 25% of the legislature in two consecitive sessions, the measure will appear on the ballot in 2008.

The math on this is : 61,678/5,755,818 =0.0107%
Then of course the Legislature has to come up with 25% of its membership twice in succession to get the measure on the ballot.

I have no idea how many states have similar requirements to get a measure to the ballot but, I submit that the general public really needs to know that nano-percentages of signatures can result in a mega issue becoming law.

Posted by: steve smith at December 24, 2005 11:37 AM
Comment #107103


You have said a mouthfull with just a few words. Words that show the actual “dumbing down” of America actually works.

Anyone who signs a document without first reading it is an idiot.

Above, synecdoche noted that one of his family members signed something without reading it and now he’s “PO’d” about it. Well, tough! You DO NOT have my sympathy.

Consider this:

What if that document was actually an agreement to turn over all worldly possessions to the person standing there collecting signatures? A legal document is a legal document and if you are of legal age, you can be screwed to death IF YOU DON’T READ WHAT YOU SIGN FIRST!!!

How many people here had a teacher in school hand out papers upside down with a signature line on the back, and then tell you not to turn the paper over and that if you want to get an “A” on this test, just sign it and turn it in? I had one do just exactly that. We signed it and handed it back in. He then took the paper and read what was on the front. Seems everyone in the class owes him a million dollars a year and have to be his slave for the rest of their lives.

He tore the papers up, of course, but it taught us a valuable lesson. Don’t sign ANYTHING unless you read it first.

Kudos to Nichole.

Posted by: Jim T at December 24, 2005 11:38 AM
Comment #107114


Some of these groups have a history of harassing their opponents.

I am also against anti-abortion groups that publish the names of abortion doctors and nurses. It is not that people can’t find these things out on their own, but when they are aggregated on a page used by very passionate people (who may consider their opponents evil) it is meant as intimidation.

BTW - you know I support gay marriage. But if I lived in Mass, I would now go out of my way to sign that petition because I am offended by the Nazi tactics of its opponents.

Posted by: Jack at December 24, 2005 12:18 PM
Comment #107116

I cannot see how signatures collected under false pretenses can be considered valid.

Yes, signing something without reading it is stupid. But there are plenty of people who get scammed everyday by not reading what they’re signing. Scam artists send out checks with fine print under the endorsement that say the endorsement indicates an agreement to sing up for internet services or yellow pages advertising. One has to be careful. But such deceitful practices, while not illegal, hurt only the scam victim. A scam such as this hurts everyone in the state of Massachusetts by subverting the democratic process, whether they saw a petition or not.

Posted by: Paul Szydlowski at December 24, 2005 12:27 PM
Comment #107132

Jeeze Snowman, that really sucks.

These Fundamentalist’s (why even continue to call them Christians?) really know how to “Love Thy Neighbor” by “Bearing False Witness” against them, don’t they? In fact, it is quite the abomination:

Proverbs 6:16

These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

I might be an agnostic, but I’m definitely with the bible on this one!
Major Kudos to Know Thy for trying to right this wrong. And to those of you saying these people should have read the petition before signing, have you never experienced how people collecting signatures outside of supermarkets will try to chat you up to the point where your bag o’ refrigerables is in danger of melting? Up until now that is what they were generally supposed to do, so that people would actually know something about the subject before they’d want sign on the line. After standing and listening to the heartfelt (or in this case, deceptive) spiel, most people just want to sign the damn thing and get to their car. JayJay’s post is a warning bell for all of us — from now on, we should tell these people to please hush-up so we can carefully scrutinize the form we’re being asked to sign.

Also Jay Jay, thanks for putting up those links regarding the voter fraud and the failures of Diebold and other voting machine companies. I think the sh*t they’ve been pulling is just beginning to hit the fan for these companies — and it’s long, long, overdue.
Gnostic Guru (love the name!), yours was a terrific post with great links. Here is another site that those interested this topic should check out:

Posted by: Adrienne at December 24, 2005 1:28 PM
Comment #107547

Here in California we have an excessive amount of propositions, most are sponsored by some special interest or other, or are so poorly written they will not pass muster in the courts. Even without fraud, this is a bad way to make laws. I tell anyone wanting my signature that the only petition I will sign is one to outlaw propositions. Jack said he would even sign petitions he disagreed with because he believed in democracy. The founders of this country wanted this to be a republic where we elected representatives to make our laws, not a direct democracy.

Posted by: wbdace at December 26, 2005 1:04 PM
Comment #109228

From gay rights watch

Is this a privacy violation? No. In Massachusetts the Attorney General makes them publicly available and the information contained on the site is in the public record, according to Massachusetts law. The conservative extremists (the gay marriage proponents) are crying foul. But why? Do you think they are getting calls from people saying that they do not want their name and address listed on this website? Well people if you signed the hateful petition then you should be proud of your actions - not ashamed or embarrassed… right?

Listen. All of those people who signed the petition have participated in the democratic process - if they did not want their names and addresses to be public, they should not have signed the petition. The main point of is to cut down on petition fraud as it is rampant on these conservative ballot petitions. Reports are coming in from all of the state of out of state signature gatherers - paid per signature - signing people’s names themselves. lets you check to see whether or not your name was signed on the petition. If it is fraudulent - they give you explicit directions on how to take it off.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 30, 2005 2:53 PM
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