By Scott JenkinsUtah State Senator, representing District 20, and Senate Majority Leader
Goodness, don't blame Greg Bell
. He's obeying the law.
Online signatures might be a great idea. They might not. That discussion needs to happen.
One thing is clear: current law would need to be modified. Right now the law requires paper and, more importantly, a witness to the signature. 20A-7-203, for example, asks for a direct personal verification of each signature. The person submitting each initiative packet certifies to the LG that they are a Utah resident, over 18 years old and that
"All the names that appear in this packet were signed by persons who professed to be the persons whose names appear in it, and each of them signed his name on it in my presence."
They also state that they believe the signer has entered the info correctly and is registered to vote (or will be by the initiative submission deadline). I don't know how you provide that human verification with an on-line petition. Clearly, the language would have to be modified or new structures put in place.
The subject is slated for study this year. Item 101 in the Master Study Resolution
(SJR 15) directs the legislature to analyze the "Use of Electronic Signatures for Petitions." Specifically:
"To study whether electronic signatures should be used for initiative and referendum petitions (both statewide and local), political party petitions, and certificate of nomination petitions."
No other state allows electronic signatures on initiative petitions. Allowing it would be breaking new ground for the nation. If we go this direction, it's worth thinking it through and doing it right.