OLYMPIA -- State officials doing the check on petitions submitted for the same-sex marriage referendum say they found what they suspect are about 1,000 forged signatures. . .
About 50 petitions for Referendum 74 with possibly forged names were submitted by one person, who was a paid signature gatherer, David Ammons, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office, said in a press release. They are names of registered voters, but the signatures don't match the ones on file.
The Washington State Patrol is investigating the case, which will eventually be turned over to a county prosecutor. Forging signatures on an initiative or referendum is a felony in Washington, with a possible penalty of five years in prison or a $10,000 fine. Or both.
It would be the third time in as many years that a signature gatherer has been charge with forgery.
The forgeries were pulled out of the stacks of petitions before counting started and aren't expected to derail the efforts of opponents of same-sex marriage to put the law on the ballot for voters to approve or reject. Sponsors of Ref. 74 submitted almost twice as many signatures as needed, and of the 1,248 signatures checked Sunday, 1,130 or 90 percent, were good.