DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Skid Row is not a place known for high voter participation, but investigators say if you take a look at ballot petitions and voter registration forms, you'll find a bevy of signatures scribbled in by the people who live on those sidewalks. The only problem is - they're fake.
"Homeless individuals would line up, the suspect would say, simply, ''Sign this person's name on the line, and we'll give you a cigarette or $1 for it," said Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Marc Reina.
Reina said his officers have been cracking down on Skid Row election fraud since May, and investigators have busted nine people.
The suspects have been charged with paying the homeless for hundreds of false names and signatures on various ballot initiatives.
"The money was very small but if you get enough signatures, you get enough money to get their drug of choice, which sends you on an endless spiral of destruction," said LAPD Officer Deon Joseph.
Joseph has spent 21 years patrolling the streets of Skid Row. Eyewitness News rode along with him earlier this year as he pointed out fake signatures people were selling off.
"This is nothing new, it's been going on for a long time but they got lazy, and thankfully our dedicated officers were able to stumble upon it and make some really great arrests," Joseph said.
Five of those busted were arraigned in downtown L.A. on Tuesday. The others were still outstanding, though investigators said they should be picked up soon. If convicted, they face up to six years in prison.
Authorities investigating allegations of voter fraud on Skid Row
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