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Proposal seeks to end forgeries on petitions

Published April 20, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - Florida businesses are pushing for new laws to combat the kinds of fraud that surfaced last year on petitions seeking amendments to the state Constitution.

Forged signatures and the names of dead voters turned up in counties around the state as elections officials attempted to verify petitions to increase the minimum wage, allow slot machines at racetracks and repeal the high-speed rail amendment that passed in 2000. A bill sponsored by Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, will be heard today by the Senate Judiciary Committee. A similar bill awaits action by the full House.

The bills would require local election officials to report apparent violations to the state Elections Commission within 10 days and imposes fines of $1,000 and possible jail terms for violators.

The bills also would require paid gatherers of signatures to notify those signing petitions that they are being paid for each signature.

"Save the Voters Voice," a coalition opposing the changes, contends they would make it virtually impossible for grass roots citizens groups to participate in the initiative process.

"This legislation is a solution looking for a problem," said Rich Templin, spokesman for the Florida AFL-CIO.

[Last modified April 20, 2005, 02:56:36]

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