Fourteen signature-gathering campaigns are currently underway in California to qualify initiatives for the ballot. Each pays a signature-gathering company, which in turn pays independent contractors to collect the names.
"It’s all supply and demand," says political consultant Bill Carrick. "It’s a simple barter system, actually."
Carrick ended his campaign for a property tax initiative last month, after gathering more than half the signatures he needed. Carrick says the price and the difficulty of collecting names increased to the point where he couldn’t be sure the measure would qualify in time.
"We started under the assumption that we would be paying $2 or $2.15 for signatures, so it was a dollar more than we anticipated," Carrick says.
Several campaigns are now paying more than $4 dollars for each signature. Some political consultants estimate qualifying an initiative will cost two million dollars more than it would have cost last year.
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