Miami paper finds more forged signatures

BY Advocate.com Editors

September 04 2002 12:00 AM ET

A Miami Herald inquiry into the petition drive behind the September 10 ballot measure asking voters to repeal Miami-Dade County's pro-gay antidiscrimination ordinance found six residents who say their signatures were forged, the paper reported Sunday.

In one instance, the name of a West Hialeah woman whose name appears on the petition three times was misspelled. Five others whose names appeared on petitions at least three times could not recall having signed more than once. Among them was a 93-year-old woman whose signature was scrawled on the petitions four times.

The Herald's findings of possible forgeries follow last month's arrests of four people tied to the petition drive in an investigation being carried out by the Polk County state attorney's office.

The petition signatures were collected in late 2000 by Take Back Miami-Dade, a coalition of religious and political activists seeking to repeal the 1998 law prohibiting job and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The group needed just under 35,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot, an amount equal to 4% of the county's registered voters.

One of the group's cochairmen, Antonio Verdugo, circulated and witnessed one of the petition pages that one witness said contains a forgery. Verdugo collected more than 10% of Take Back's nearly 51,000 signatures calling for the repeal, records show.

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