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Debate about online petition signatures hits three states

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February 11, 2010


California, Nebraska, Utah: At least three states are facing questions about the legality of online petition circulation. Currently no state allows electronic signatures to be submitted for initiatives. However, in January 2010, supporters of the California No Political Deductions from Public Employee Paychecks (2010) announced that they were using a new online method for signature collection - an iPhone application created by Verafirma.[1] In Nebraska Sen. Bill Avery introduced a bill - LB 1059 - to allow initiative and referendum petitions to be signed electronically.[2] In Utah, supporters of two ballot measures began soliciting signatures on a website called www.i-sign.us. However, this week both the attorney general and lieutenant governor announced that electronic petition signatures are not valid. "My review and analysis of the statutory provisions indicates that the laws governing initiatives do not contemplate or allow for the use of electronic signatures," said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in a five-page analysis of the proposed online process.[3] According to reports the issue is likely to head to court.[4] Decisions on the online solicitation practice in both Nebraska and California remain pending.

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