Populist Party supporters must start over in their attempt to get 500 valid voter signatures on a petition to get the party on the ballot - the man hired to collect the signatures forged most of them and has fled the state.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen says the petition "clearly had forged names, it was so obvious."The West Virginia man, hired by the national Populist Party to collect the 500 signatures in Utah, has admitted to national party leaders he forged the names, said Swensen.

Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Gavin Anderson said prosecutors will decide later if it's worth pursuing the man, who was last seen in Santa Fe, N.M. "He's definitely fled Utah," Anderson said.

Providing false information on a formal government document - like a party organizing petition - is a third-degree felony, Anderson said.

The man asked Swensen's staff to provide voter registration lists in several county areas. "They're public information, he paid for the copying of the lists," Swensen said.

The man then turned in over 800 "signatures" to the lieutenant governor's office. State officials noticed that Holladay was misspelled "Holiday" on most of the signatures, while some Cache County signatures had the county misspelled "Cash."