Brazen petition fraud

Dear Editor: On Thursday, Aug. 11, my friend and I were walking down 1st Street and were approached by two young men wanting us to sign a petition. That morning, word had come that the Port Authority might raise PATH fares to $2.75 and the news cycle was saturated with discussion about the pending hikes. The two young men who had come towards us seemed earnest, telling my friend and I that they were circulating a petition to stop the fare hike. With little hesitation I volunteered my signature. I found it puzzling however that they didn’t need my street address – just a name and a signature, please. They also asked my friend visiting from Queens to sign as well, insisting that her signature would count. I signed quickly, finding the plea unobjectionable. As I prepared to go I checked myself, thinking it prudent to take a closer look at the petition that I had so precipitously signed.
The document said nothing about PATH hikes, nothing about tolls, nothing at all about what these young men were talking about. It was something entirely different; a petition about changing election dates in Hoboken. I scratched out my signature and demanded an explanation. In spite of the evidence on the page these young men insisted the petition was “related” to the PATH hike. There was nothing, not one word in that petition that had anything to do with the pending hikes.
I told these young men that they were being completely dishonest. They were, and were also completely unembarrassed about it. It is possible that the petition these young men presented us was a legitimate one but they framed it as something completely different.
After all, not many Hobokenites relish a PATH hike. The document they were asking us to sign was not at all what they claimed it to be; they outright lied about its contents. It was total dissimulation, a pathetic ruse, albeit an effective one. This is no way to get things done. This abuse of the citizenry’s good faith ought to be censured.
At the very least it ought to be recognized and reprimanded for the shameful practice that it is. I suspect more than a few people coming home lent their signatures to what they thought was a protest against PATH and Toll hikes. Outrage is an appropriate reaction.

Paul Paulson

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