Utah Electronic Signature Ban Referendum (2012)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
According to reports, the referendum petition was filed with the Utah Secretary of State, and was done so on March 10, 2011. Utah resident Steve Maxfield, Republican National Committeewoman Nancy Lord and Republican activist Janalee Tobias were sponsors of the initiative.
The issue of electronic signatures being used for ballot access has had a history in the state of Utah since 2010. The following are events that have transpired surrounding the topic:
- In January 2010:
- A proposed 2012 ballot initiative effort that relates to the Utah Ethics Commission had been soliciting signatures online in hopes of gaining ballot access. These signatures, according to Utah state law, were valid substitutes. However, Lieutenant Governor of Utah Greg Bell had not made a decision on the whether or not those signatures were indeed appropriate. Then, on February 10, 2010 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.
- On June 2, 2010:
- The Utah Supreme Court heard arguments in a case regarding online signature solicitation which revolved around Farley Anderson's - an independent gubernatorial candidate - petition signatures that were rejected by the Lieutenant Governor of Utah. However, the case also affects signatures submitted by proponents of the previously mentioned Utah Ethics Commission Initiative. If the high court approved the validity of online signatures, then the initiative may have qualified for the 2012 statewide ballot. The Utah Supreme Court agreed to add initiative petitions to the case. Justices also agreed to allow Utahns for Ethical Government to file a "friend of the court" brief.
- In June 22, 2010:
- The Utah Supreme Court unanimously concluded that electronic signatures were just as valid as handwritten signatures and must be accepted by state election officials. However, initiatives were not explicitly discussed in the ruling.
- On July 8, 2010:
- Lt. Gov. Greg Bell issued an interim rule on electronic signatures for initiatives and referendums. According to reports and state documents the new rule would allow the collection of electronic signatures while still maintaining the rules for accountability and integrity of the process. The interim rule would remain valid and in effect for 120 days. For the first 30 days the lieutenant governor's office would take public comments and later determine if a public hearing was necessary. Following that period, state officials would work with the Utah Legislature to establish a permanent rule in the state code.
- Senate Bill 165 was introduced during 2011 state legislative session on February 25, 2011. The measure bans collecting petition signatures online, instead mandating that signatures be obtained directly from registered voters. The Utah State Senate voted on the proposal on March 8, 2011 with a vote of 26-1, sending it to the House for consideration. On March 9, 2011, the Utah House of Representatives approved the proposal with a vote of 52-23, sending the bill to Governor of Utah Gary Herbert, where it will be enacted after he signs the law. This is where the efforts to repeal the law via veto referendum began to take place.
- On March 25, 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah filed a lawsuit on behalf of two referendum petition circulators. The lawsuit said that the e-signatures ban contradicts a 2010 Utah Supreme Court ruling that allowed a candidate for governor to use online signatures to obtain ballot access. The lawsuit was filed against Lieutenant Governor of Utah Greg Bell. It was filed in Utah Supreme Court, where it challenged the constitutionality of the ban passed by the Utah Legislature, the ban that was subject of the referendum.
- In a ruling on August 31, 2012, 3rd District Judge Randall Skanchy stated that the measure should not be placed on the November 2012 ballot. Skanchy stated about the laws the referendum tried to overturn, "The laws do not limit the ability of citizens to raise issues and initiate political discussions."
- Utah 2012 ballot measures
- 2012 ballot measures
- List of Utah ballot measures
- Laws governing the initiative process in Utah
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Group files referendum petition to kill records law," March 10, 2011
- The Salt Lake Tribune, "Lieutenant governor rejects online petition signatures," February 10, 2010
- Deseret News, "Utah Legislature: Initiative backers to fight exclusion of electronic signatures," February 10, 2010
- Associated Press, "Utah high court considers online signatures case," June 6, 2010
- The Salt Lake Tribune, "Court to include initiatives in review of e-signatures," June 4, 2010
- Deseret News, "Utah Supreme Court to hear fight over electronic signatures," May 24, 2010
- Davis County Clipper, "Ruling in ACLU case could aid UEG," May 27, 2010
- The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah Supreme Court hears ballot access case," June 2, 2010
- Fox 13 News, "Utah Supreme Court examines issue of e-signatures on ballot initiatives," June 2, 2010
- Associated Press, "Utah Supreme Court rules in favor of e-signatures," June 22, 2010
- KCPW, "No Decision Yet on E-Signatures for Ballot Initiatives," June 24, 2010
- Deseret News, "Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell says e-signatures allowed for ballot initiatives and referendums," July 8, 2010
- KCSG News, "Interim Rule on Electronic Signatures Established," July 8, 2010
- Utah Legislature, "Bill Status-Senate Bill 165," accessed March 11, 2011
- The Republic, "Lawmakers pass ban on electronic signatures for ballot initiatives and candidates," March 9, 2011
- The Republic, "Lt. Gov. Greg Bell sued by ACLU of Utah for prohibiting electronic signatures on petitions," March 25, 2011
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Judge rules against foes of Utah’s initiative law," August 31, 2012