Letters to the Editor: Why are paid signature gatherers even legal?
I was disappointed by the recent decision of the city of Fort Dodge to allow paid signature gatherers to work for the city’s elections office. Now, under the city’s current policy, anyone not a resident of the city – including family members, employees of the city, state and federal government and contractors – are also prohibited from working on city elections. It seems that the city has no interest in ensuring compliance with our state and federal election laws.
In the past, people in the area have complained about the number of people illegally working on city elections. Since the policy change, one person has been arrested this year for making illegal campaign contributions, and a second person pleaded guilty for contributing to campaigns in the area and doing so while out of state. So far in 2011, the city has received no information about illegal contributions, but is actively investigating other allegations of violations of state and federal campaign laws.
A recent local news article reported that city officials had received two complaints about illegal contributions. If true, this would be yet another example of the city’s inability to enforce existing laws.
I think city leaders should be proactive in addressing these illegalities. The city has the resources to make sure its employees and contracts comply with the law, while at the same time ensuring compliance with the city’s own code of conduct. But the city’s leadership seems to be more interested in playing by the rules when it suits their political agenda, rather than keeping the lines of communication open with residents of the city, or being proactive in addressing these serious violations of the law.
The city should require paid signature gatherers to be certified by the city before they are allowed to work on voting related issues. This would provide better oversight and would better ensure that local residents’ rights are protected.
The decision of the city council to allow paid signature gatherers to work for elections should be reconsidered and repealed. This is another example of overreach by city officials who care more about satisfying political goals than the citizens of Fort Dodge.