More than half of the 21,305 signatures submitted by Craig’s campaign were rejected, leaving him with 10,192 valid signatures, the agency said in its report, noting that little effort had been made to change the handwriting.
“In some cases, instead of trying different signatures, the circulator deliberately scribbled illegibly,” the agency said of the petitions for Mr. Craig. “In other cases, they distributed petition sheets among themselves, each filling in a line.”
Craig said in his statement Thursday that the agency’s staff had exceeded its powers when it rejected entire pages of signatures instead of doing it line by line.
“We are confident that if the law is properly applied, our campaign will be voted on in August,” he said.
In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Craig Vanguard Field Strategies, an Austin, Texas firm that helped manage his recruiting efforts, which he said relied on several subcontractors previously unknown to him. He said it was up to the company to have checks and balances to detect fraud, calling it “short-sighted” and unrealistic to expect a busy candidate to verify more than 20,000 signatures.
Vanguard Field Strategies confirmed on Tuesday that 18 of the people identified in the polling agency report as having fraudulent petitions in circulation were working for another company that outsourced it to collect signatures.
The company’s president, who declined to identify the subcontractor, said none of the circulators named in the report were paid by Vanguard. If the allegations are true, he said, the individuals should be charged with fraud.
The election bureau rejected 9,393 of the 23,193 signatures submitted by Mr Johnson’s campaign, leaving him with 13,800 valid signatures. Some of the fraudulent signatures represented voters who had died or moved out of the state, the agency said.