DAVIS COUNTY – A man is charged after auditors say he faked the names of hundreds of people on petitions for statewide ballot initiatives. County officials say they hope catching the man will restore faith among voters.
Davis County officials noticed something fishy with the signatures gathered in Layton and Kaysville on three statewide initiatives, namely medical cannabis, the direct primary election and “Our Schools Now.” County Clerk/Auditor Curtis Koch says, “There were [multiple] names that were filled in with the same handwriting and lines that were scribbled out.”
After looking closer, staffers recognized some of the names that were on the packets of signatures collected by Paul Patterson. “Every signature that comes through this office, whether on an initiative or on a ballot, those are going to be reviewed,” Koch says. Investigators spoke with some of these county residents, who stated they had not signed the petitions their names were on. Plus, some of the names on the lists were taken from people who have died.
Koch says Patterson spoke with investigators and confessed he forged all of the signatures in the three packets. Patterson was paid just over a dollar for each signature. “This is the public telling their government what they want. So, when people start forging that, that skews the voice of the people. That’s why this process is so important,” Koch says.
Koch does not believe this will impact the initiatives standings on a state level, since they spotted the forgeries before they were submitted to state elections officials. “I hope this inspires confidence in our process. We want people to be engaged in this process, and if they believe in the initiative, they should certainly sign [the petition,]” Koch says.
Patterson is facing three counts of misconduct of electors or officers, a class A misdemeanor.
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