Be careful what you sign for … you might just get it

November 16, 2009

It's not how you sign, but what you're signing for.

With Election Day now passed, we’ve had a few quiet weeks devoid of a boggling alphabet of ballot measures, a myriad of candidate speak, and an inundation of campaign literature enough to drive you crazy.

But just as quickly as one election season ends, another has begun, and it starts with petition takers you may see at grocery stores and other retail locations were foot traffic is likely to generate at least a few John Hancocks in favor of a certain cause.

I encountered such a petitioner this past weekend and thought I knew what I was signing for … and what I was getting myself into.

I was pretty sure after I left the polls two weeks ago that I had cast each of my votes  carefully, without any errors. It’s the post-election OCD that commonly afflicts many a concerned voter: Did I vote for the right candidate? Oh no! I voted no when I meant yes, and now if the measure fails, it’s all my fault.

On Saturday, I didn’t exercise the same measured care with this petition I usually carry out at the ballot booth.

The sign at the table asked people to endorse a ballot measure legalizing marijuana. Informed by our paper’s recent and ongoing coverage of the issue, I decided to sign because it’s been proven that marijuana, in many forms, is medicinal and beneficial for many patients of serious and terminal illnesses. THC is not the evil drug despised by masses of the uninformed.

In our conservative-minded Ventura County, I noticed my signature was one of few — very few. Try 3 at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

Yet just as I’d dotted the ‘I’ in my last name, the page was flipped over to another page which I was asked to endorse … and another.

Mid-autograph, I stopped and hesitated to wonder, then to ask, “Are these all for medical marijuana?

No, the woman told me, and quickly rattled off that my additional two signatures were to endorse two separate, and completely unrelated, potential ballot measures. I think one was for auto insurance reform, I don’t remember. I may have even supported one or both of them had I been a student of the issues at hand.

But that’s besides the point. The point is that petitioners will try to take advantage of signers who endorse their first, major cause by quietly getting you to sign for other matters you may know nothing about … or even realize you’re blindly signing for.

So be careful when you go to vote or if you sign a petition that you have a good, working knowledge of the issues at hand. A poor grasp of some political matters have no doubt caused ballot measures to fail (or pass) at the polls when they shouldn’t have because people weren’t better acquainted with information.

And that goes for anything you may sign your name to: you could be getting ripped off.

I could have been signing over my soul to Satan, for all I knew.

Get out of your contract, you say? When hell freezes over.

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