Judge orders handwriting sample from signature collector accused of forging signatures on petition

DENVER -- A judge has ordered a signature collector to provide writing samples in a forgery case against him.

Angelo Abad was arrested earlier this month, accused of forging signatures on a petition for a ballot issue.

That ballot issue, to raise the state's minimum wage, qualified for the November ballot despite the signatures suspected by the Secretary of State's Office of being forged.

In August, Denver7 first reported on workers hired by the Secretary of State's Office that identified suspected forged signatures. The Secretary of State's Office turned the questionable signatures over to the Attorney General's Office, which opened an investigation.

Court records show Abad was in custody on Sept. 7. He appeared in court Monday, where a judge ordered he provide handwriting samples.

The Colorado Attorney General's Office is also investigating another case of suspected forged signatures turned over to them by the Secretary of State's Office.

In May, Denver7 first uncovered dozens of forged signatures on the petitions for a U.S. Senate candidate. That investigation led Denver Police to arrest Maureen Moss. She now faces 34 counts of forgery.

In all of these instances, state law does not all the Secretary of State's Office to compare the signature on a petition with that voter's signature on file. That can only be done for elections.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams has told Denver7 he is working over the summer with lawmakers to come up with a potential bill when the session begins again in January. He said the bill would require money for his office and likely, a change to the election calendar to provide more time for petition review, after the petitions are turned in and before they need to be certified.

In an extended interview with Denver7 for Politics Unplugged, Gov. John Hickenlooper addressed the forged signature issue.

"We've done a few dozen stories on forged signatures with petitions, as it relates to a U.S. Senate candidate, and now petition issues for things that may or may not have made the ballot," said Zelinger. "What should the legislature do next year, if anything, to make it seem more likely that I'm voting on something that legitimately should have made the ballot, without someone else just sitting in a Starbucks signing someone else's name?"

"One thing that was suggested to me last week; if there is a forged signature on one of these things and you can demonstrate it's forged -- and a pattern of signatures, so not just one person, but that there's multiple forged signatures there -- that you take five signatures off for every forged signature that's on the petition," said Hickenlooper. "You really incentivize those people collecting signatures to do it the right way. I'm not sure that's the solution, but that's one suggestion. There's got to be some sort of consequence or people are just going to keep doing it and hope they get away with it."

When asked if the law should change to allow the Secretary of State's Office to compare signatures on petitions to the voter's signature on file, Hickenlooper was supportive.

"That's an obvious solution. I have no problem with that," said Hickenlooper.

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