However, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris is allowing Julie Klein to serve her sentence on work release so she can keep a job, The Daily Herald reported Wednesday. That means Klein will be jailed but can leave to go to work.
Klein was paid up to 75 cents for each signature she gathered in 2012 on the gay marriage Referendum 74 and anti-tax Initiative 1185.
Election officials became suspicious of the similar handwriting, and about 1,000 signatures she submitted were not counted. The secretary of state's office turned over the petitions to the Washington State Patrol for a criminal investigation.
Klein, 54, pleaded guilty, saying she forged the signatures because she needed money.
The judge was not sympathetic. "I can't even begin to tell you how appalled I am by this crime," Farris said.
People have sacrificed their lives and freedom for the right to vote, the judge said.
"These rights are sacred," Farris said.
Public defender Kelly Canary urged the judge to allow Klein to do community service instead of serving any jail time.
Canary found only two similar cases of petition fraud. One person wasn't sentenced to any time behind bars, and the other was allowed to do community service, the lawyer said.
"It is serious ... but six months is not appropriate. This isn't a violent crime," Canary said.
The judge said she didn't doubt that Klein had financial troubles, but said she wasn't going to overlook the "lack of moral integrity" that went along with the crimes.
"Without signatures these issues don't go on the ballot," Farris said. "You can change history. Did you even believe in what these petitions stood for, or were you selling your soul for a couple of pennies?"