Will Michael Ni's John Hancock be the signature heard 'round the world?

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February 14, 2010

SAN MATEO, California: California voter Michael Ni delivered a signature to San Mateo County election officials in January 2010 that may become "the signature heard 'round the world." His signature was to help the Marijuana Legalization Initiative qualify for the ballot, but instead of being affixed with ink to a paper petition, Ni's signature was delivered to San Mateo's county clerk on a flash drive after Ni signed the petition using the touch screen of his iPhone.[1]

Ni is the co-founder of Verafirma, a Silicon Valley start-up that has developed a technology for electronic signature-gathering. Verafirma's technology has the potential to revolutionize the signature-gathering business, making it less expensive to qualify measures for the ballot and therefore allowing non-monied political activists to participate in direct democracy.

Ni expects that his signature will be legally challenged, and that the outcome of that legal challenge will provide his company with a roadmap for what the courts will and will not allow as legal signatures.[1]

San Mateo County clerk Warren Slocum is likely to reject the signature, saying "It's questionable whether it meets the requirements of the law. A court is probably the place where the question can be decided."[1]

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