Father Joe Carroll with backers of the initiative and boxes of petitions. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The backers of a ballot initiative to expand the San Diego Convention Center said Thursday they will sue the signature gathering firm after the measure failed to qualify.

Arno Petition Consultants was hired by the Yes! For a Better San Diego campaign to gather signatures for the initiative to expand the convention center while providing funds for homeless programs and road repair.

More than 114,00 signatures were collected — over 50 percent more than necessary — but a random check by the Registrar of Voters failed to show sufficient valid signatures to quality for the ballot.

“Not only did Arno fail to deliver on their basic obligation to collect signatures, they seem to have misled us every step of the way,” said campaign officials, who suggested the Arno firm fabricated signature reports.

After the failure to quality, Mayor Kevin Faulconer asked the City Council to vote to place the measure on the ballot.

Professional signature gatherers secure the vast majority of signatures for ballot initiatives.

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