Judge Says Electronic Petition Signature Not Valid

Fri, Mar 19 2010 by Anonymous

Back in January, Citizens in Charge Foundation awarded The Citizen Power Campaign with our Lilburne Award for that month. The California campaign received the award for their use of new petition signature gathering technology that allows citizens to sign a petition via smart-phone.

Since this is such a new and different way of gathering petition signatures, it was going to inevitably land in court:

A San Mateo County judge tentatively ruled Thursday that an electronic signature submitted to the county elections office cannot be used to qualify an initiative for the ballot.

In his written decision released prior to a court hearing Thursday, Superior Court Judge George Miram ruled against Michael Ni, whose lawsuit sought to force the county clerk to accept a USB drive containing an “e-signature” that he submitted to qualify a statewide ballot measure for legalizing and taxing marijuana.

Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Warren Slocum rejected Ni’s signature, captured by an iPhone and software developed by Verafirma, a startup company Ni co-founded. Slocum said a court must determine whether the signature is legal

The hope is that after this new technology makes its way through the court system it will be deemed legal. Surely there is a way to make sure new technology complies with state requirements. Making it easier for citizens to sign petitions will make the process more open, accessible, and cheaper. This will result in more citizens having a voice in their government, and that’s what we want right?