Hundreds of Massachusetts voters unknowingly signed petitions calling for a ban on gay marriage in the state, according to organizers of the Massachusetts Save Our Horses Campaign. The campaign alleges that the Pheonix-based firm Ballot Access asked voters throughout the state to sign petitions calling for a ban on the slaughtering of horses for food but then had them unwittingly sign the marriage ban petition.
Ballot Access was hired by both Save Our Horses and the Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage to circulate petitions in order to gain enough signatures for each campaign to put its issue on the ballot in 2004. The marriage ban campaign, however, allegedly paid the firm more money per signature. Lowell Finely, lawyer for Save Our Horses, claims that the firm then encouraged signature collectors to use the horse petition to obtain marriage ban signatures covertly. Collectors allegedly approached people with the horse petition and a clipboard that had a cover sheet decorated with a horse and American flag. Underneath the cover sheet were the marriage ban petitions that people were asked to sign. People claim that they were unaware that the signature sheets were for a different campaign. Many have now complained to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office, and a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has confirmed that “some irregularities” were found. “People may have signed a petition they didn’t want to sign.”
Save Our Horses was 2,574 signatures short of the required number needed to be placed on the ballot. They are now suing to be included on the ballot. Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage, which collected more than the required number of signatures, has denied the allegations, but Ballot Access has made no comment.