Utah high court considers online signatures case

Utah high court considers online signatures case

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Utah Supreme Court is considering whether the state should be required to accept online signatures on ballot initiative petitions.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Utah Supreme Court is considering whether the state should be required to accept online signatures on ballot initiative petitions.

The justices heard arguments last week in the case of gubernatorial hopeful Farley Anderson, an independent seeking to challenge Republican Gov. Gary Herbert this fall.

The lieutenant governor's office has rejected Anderson's paperwork, saying he didn't get the required 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot.  Including more than 150 e-signatures, Anderson contends that he did.

The state Supreme Court is allowing Utahns for Ethical Government to file a "friend of the court" brief in the case.

The group fell short in gathering the required number of paper signatures to qualify its ethics reform initiative for this year's election and is attempting to place the measure on the 2012 ballot.

Utahns for Ethical Government's brief should be ready by Monday, attorney Alan Smith said.  The group is making an argument similar to Anderson's in its bid to allow online signatures.

"It will demonstrate that the Utah Legislature has mandated the legal recognition of electronic signatures for all purposes," Smith said.  "By taking a contrary position, the lieutenant governor has defied the legislative branch and is out of bounds in doing so."

The Utah attorney general's office contends that electronic signatures can't be counted because state law only contemplates a paper-based system with voters applying their signatures to a sheet.

UEG volunteers learned last week that their attempt to gather 95,000 signatures statewide fell short by 21,000 names.  An additional 10,000 e-signatures remain uncounted but could help in UEG's drive to meet an Aug. 12 deadline for the 2012 ballot
instead.

No state currently accepts electronic signatures for election purposes.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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