(An interesting personal account of the dirty tricks. - promoted by shayera)
NOTE: cross-posted from DailyKos.
First, I should explain that I'm a graduate student at the University of California Santa Barbara.
Today I witnessed what I think is an incidence of ballot petition fraud relating to the electoral vote apportionment initiative - the proposal to apportion California's electoral votes by congressional district, unilaterally giving 19 of California's electoral votes to the Republicans in 2008.
Outside the UCEN (student center plus bookstore plus food court) at UC Santa Barbara, there were a number of people with cardboard clipboards soliciting people to sign ballot petitions for a proposal to spend $1 billion on cancer hospitals for kids. If you agree to sign, they tell you "you need to sign 4 times." What they do not tell you is that the three pages after the ballot initiative on cancer hospitals are different ballot initiatives: the second proposes to abolish eminent domain, the third proposals to abolish rent control, and the fourth is the proposal to apportion California's electoral votes by district (the so-called Dirty Tricks Initiative).
I should note that the clipboard is arranged such that a rubber band holding the petitions to the cardboard is positioned on the top of the page, across the actual ballot language in question - thus, partially hiding the text of the ballot initiatives on pages 2-4 unless you actually stop and pull down the top of the page.
I agreed to sign the cancer initiative, but the comment about signing four times raised a red flag, because I'm familiar with the structure of ballot petitions, so I paused before signing and looked at the other initiatives. However, I'm absolutely sure that most of the people signing, young college students on a rush to get their lunches and off to class, did not take this step.
What they are doing is getting people to sign for ballot initiatives without their knowledge or informed consent, using young peoples' desire to do a good thing and their lack of familiarity with the legal paperwork of initiative petitions. If this is not illegal it is certainly deeply unethical. The moment I realized what was going on, I told the petitioners that they shouldn't be telling people to sign for ballot initiatives they're not aware of. Immediately after, I called the school newspaper, the Daily Nexus, the Courage Campaign, the Santa Barbara Democratic Central Committee, and the California Democratic Party. After that, I have sent in a form to the Sec. of State as well, reporting this.
I'm posting this to further get the word out.