SALT LAKE CITY — A robocall is going around, suggesting signatures have been forged and asking people to consider removing from the Count My Vote ballot initiative.
“You might be surprised to hear your signature appears on their petition. Not only were hundreds of signatures forged, but most citizens feel they were deceived when signing the Count My Vote petition,” the phone call states. “The truth is this petition means to weaken and dismantle our neighborhood caucus meetings that hold our politicians accountable and keep big money out of Utah politics.”
The robocall offers a menu option, including asking if signature gatherers were dishonest or asking people to verify they did, in fact, sign it. The robocall does not say who is behind it.
Taylor Morgan, the director of Count My Vote, received one of the robocalls and shared it with FOX 13.
“Utah voters are being called, threatened, and bullied in an attempt to remove verified petition signatures. Please don’t be fooled by these deceptive and dirty tricks,” he said. “Our opposition’s tactics are dishonest and they demonstrate their commitment to preventing voters from having a voice. This shows why Count My Vote really matters.”
Count My Vote seeks to allow political candidates to gather signatures to get on a ballot, bypassing the caucus-convention system. The initiative and a prior compromise law passed by the legislature has triggered fierce legal battles and split the Utah Republican Party between those who support the law, and those who want to use the caucus/convention system only.
Two people were charged earlier this year with submitting forged signatures on the medical marijuana and Count My Vote initiatives in Weber County.
Based on a FOX 13 analysis of validated signatures in Utah Senate districts, Count My Vote has qualified for the November ballot. A rival initiative that sought to preserve the caucus/convention system, Keep My Voice, failed to gather enough signatures and withdrew its own initiative.
David Bateman, a supporter of Keep My Voice, confirmed that the group was behind the phone calls, which had yielded hundreds of responses so far.
“We’re finding the vast majority of people who signed the Count My Vote petition were misled, and in some cases even lied to or had their signatures forged. We’re working hard to let people know what they really signed so they have the chance to remove their signatures before the May 15th deadline,” he told FOX 13.
With it appearing that Medicaid expansion, medical marijuana and Count My Vote will be on the November ballot, some opponents of those initiatives have tried to persuade voters to withdraw their signatures from the citizen petitions. The Utah Patients Coalition, which is backing the medical marijuana initiative, has told FOX 13 it has seen people trying to push people into withdrawing their signatures.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has previously said he does not believe voters should withdraw their signatures, but vote on the issues that qualify for the ballot.