Wave of the future for petitioning: Electronic Signatures

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

The L.A. Times is reporting today about the Utah group Peoples Right LLC and its current initiative on ethics reform which is getting signatures…. electronically.

Legal?  Maybe.  And possibly a precedent for the future.  For now, the state elections office will need to decide if the signatures will be accepted.

No state currently allows electronic signatures to be submitted for initiatives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

But The Peoples Right LLC contends that Utah’s electronic signature verification law allows registered voters to submit their names online. The group is using its online system to gather signatures for two initiatives it is seeking to place on the Utah ballot in the fall.

But whether those signatures can be counted will be up to the lieutenant governor’s office, which administers elections in Utah.

State law acknowledges that electronic signatures are valid substitutes for handwritten ones, but the election code makes numerous references to paper forms that must meet strict guidelines before they can be accepted.

This will no doubt be controversial, especially in a state that has made citizen initiatives very difficult to organize.

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