Why Signatures and Checking Them Matter

A vigilant Registrar in New Haven pursues suspicions.  From the New Haven Independent  Judge Hopeful Submits Forged Signatures <read>

Americo Carchia Wednesday said he’s considering whether to end his campaign for probate judge and vowed to cooperate with any potential criminal investigations after learning that he had submitted petitions with forged signatures to qualify for the Sept. 12 Democratic primary ballot.

Carchia turned in petitions on Aug. 9 with the names and alleged signatures of over 2,000 registered New Haven Democratic voters putatively supporting having his name appear on the Sept. 12 primary ballot against party-endorsed candidate Clifton Graves Jr. He needed 1,852 certified signatures to qualify; the Registrar of Voters office found 1,982 signatures to be valid — based on the names and addresses and birth dates listed matching those of registered Democrats. So Carchia made the ballot

One of those signatures belonged to Andrew Weiss, a Yale student listed as living in Yale’s Arnold Hall. Weiss told the Independent by email Tuesday that he never signed a petition. In fact, he wasn’t even in New Haven during the two-week period at the end of July and beginning of August when the petitions were collected. “I was in Japan,” he wrote…

Democratic Registrar of Voters Shannel Evans Wednesday confirmed that she had filed the complaint with the SEEC after speaking with voters listed on the petitions who said they, too, had never signed. (SEEC spokesman Joshua Foley said the agency can’t confirm or deny receipt of such a complaint until the full commission meets and votes on whether to launch an investigation.)

Carchia was shaken as he received photocopies of all his petitions from the City Clerk’s office before visiting the Registrar of Voters Office to learn more about the approval process.

“I can’t be more numb right now. Look at these!” he exclaimed.

“I’m seething inside.”

He said someone who gives him political advice — he said he couldn’t remember who — had steered him to Yellow Dog Strategies. He said he trusted that the company knew what it was doing. “It was difficult” to find enough help to gather so many signatures in just a two-week window, Carchia said. He said he had no knowledge of corners being cut by the consultants.

This is why signatures are important and useful.  Its not that every forgery can be caught, yet when there are a lot of fraudulent polling place sign-ins, absentee ballots, or petitions those redundant signatures can raise suspicions or in other cases confirm suspicions.

Reminds us of 2004 in Ohio as recounted in the book Witness to a Crime, reviewed here.  One of several incidents in the book was multiple districts with sheets of added polling place voters signed in with similar signatures – signatures of an election supervisor in headquarters, not at any one of the polling places.

Unlike Ohio and many other states, Connecticut does not require voters to sign the check off lists at polling uplaces and does not require absentee vote counters to meaningfully check signatures.  As we too often say here, look for not evil, see not evil, find no evil.

Also outsourcing your campaign is not all its cracked up to be.


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