Weber County Files charges of forgery and violation of petition procedures against two individuals gathering signatures in statewide initiative packets

Weber County Attorney Chris Allred filed charges against two individuals for forgery and violations of petition procedures under Utah’s election code on February 22, 2018.

In Utah, six statewide initiatives are being circulated for signatures in order to be placed on the ballot at the upcoming election in November.  Sponsors of the petitions, volunteers, and signature-gathering companies carry out the signature gathering process and then turn the signature packets over to county clerks for review. The clerks are then responsible to determine whether or not each signature in the packet matches the signature on file in the voter registration database.

On December 28, 2017, staff at the Weber County Elections Office suspected that a number of signatures in thirteen packets that had been turned in for verification were forgeries.  Based on this information, the Elections Office contacted the Lt. Governor’s Office and the Weber County Attorney’s Office for further investigation.

The charges that were filed on February 22 are a clear indication that the Weber County Clerk/Auditor, the Elections Office, and the Weber County Attorney take allegations of forgery seriously and work hard to safeguard the democratic process by ensuring that proper election procedures are followed. So far, this issue is isolated to two of the statewide initiatives.

Ricky Hatch, Weber County Clerk/Auditor, said, “I’ve been asked if we really review every signature in an election or a petition.  Yes we do.  Every county in the state looks at every signature, every time, whether it’s on a vote-by-mail envelope or in an initiative packet.  Detailed controls such as these safeguard the integrity of our elections.”  These forgeries were caught early in the packet submission process. The issue was discovered by vigilant election employees, trained in handwriting analysis, who followed procedures, and took the appropriate action.