Utah Supreme Court rules in favor of e-signatures

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  • Evets
    June 23, 2010 9:11 a.m.

    Working for the Feds and in health care we use E-signatures all the time. BUT the process is not the same as the processed used when one is doing regualr business online. To be able to do E-signatures that hold up in court actions our computers are setup with certain security software and assigned various rights on the server. The whole system only works when our Common Access Card is in that computer and we go through a long process to just get a CAC issued in the first place.
    I really doubt that the civilian workforce will want to go through all of this to do e-signature correctly. I certainly do not want this done without security in place to verify the signatures. If the state takes up the issue I would hope they put certain security requirements on the e-signatures.
    Do it right or don't do it at all.

  • My2Cents
    June 23, 2010 6:18 a.m.

    The electronic age has changed many laws and rights of individuals. They even use electronics (televised) trials of accused criminals from their jail cells and they never see the inside of the courtroom. Legislators pass laws through e-signatures and may have never seen or read the legislation they vote on.

    However in this case where e-signatures are gathered to make proposals should be allowed, it's not a vote but an approval to allow public vote in the polls on a person or petition.

    The only problem is how secure the state keeps the names of registered voters so they don't get in the wrong hands for the wrong reasons. The list could be used to harass individuals or allow illegal aliens and other non americans to interfere with our processes. The key to the e-signature process is the security of the registered voters list that is used to verify e-signatures. Anyone working on them should have FBI background checks and sworn to secrecy and non disclosure.

    The population of the state is so spread out it's near impossible for a few to reach all interested parties face to face.

  • DesignerGenes
    June 22, 2010 4:48 p.m.

    Overuling this will be the first order of business in the very next session of the Utah Legislature.

  • World Watcher
    June 22, 2010 2:35 p.m.

    It's secure. Even Lt Gov. Mark Thomas' office had input into the process BEFORE they began to use it.

    They are collecting e-signatures for the unaffiliated Lt Gov candidate Steve Maxfield right now.

    But then again, I guess if just anyone out there knows your name, address, birthdate and the last 4 numbers of your driver's license, they can "forge" your e-signature. Oh, not to mention the IP address is recorded, so they will need to change computers and ISP providers pretty often not to be red-flagged. So yeah, go ahead and try it out. See if you can open the phone book and get a random name approved. I dare you.

  • Esquire
    June 22, 2010 2:25 p.m.

    Good for the people!

  • Ronald Fox
    June 22, 2010 2:20 p.m.

    This will change how things are done politically in Utah. Watch for people submitting all sorts of ballot measures. A new Industry has just sprouted.

  • Ronald Fox
    June 22, 2010 2:20 p.m.

    This will change how things are done politically in Utah. Watch for people submitting all sorts of ballot measures. A new Industry has just sprouted.

  • Ronald Fox
    June 22, 2010 2:19 p.m.

    This will change how things are done politically in Utah. Watch for people submitting al sorts of ballot measures. A new Industry has just sprouted.

  • Poppa Al
    June 22, 2010 2:10 p.m.

    Welcome to the 21st Century! It's about time! I hope this is upheld and makes precedent for the entire country. Way to go Utah Supreme's!

  • mamiejane
    June 22, 2010 12:46 p.m.

    There actually is a validation system in place...the court ruled that electronic signatures may actually be easier to verify than handwritten signatures.

  • NF
    June 22, 2010 12:30 p.m.

    I honestly don't understand how the Lt. Gov and AG thought they were going to win this argument. They themselves have set precedence for the use of electronic signatures by allowing multiple state and legal affairs to be handled electronically (i.e. registering to vote, registering your vehicle, paying taxes).

    Someone earlier commented that requiring a voter ID number in combination with your name when signing a petition or supporting someone to be placed on a ballot is a good way to combat against fraud. Besides - these are preliminary activities that only get certain people or issues on a ballot.

    People still actually have to go to the polls or submit ballots in absentia or by mail before any of these ballot issues have real effect. There is no reason for a government that is supposed to be 'for and by' the people to be inihibiting any citizen's ability to participate in the political process whether it be by running for office or signing a petition.

  • Furry1993
    June 22, 2010 12:24 p.m.

    Good decision. It gives people a good way to be able to participate in the political process. There must be proper protections against abuse, of course (such as requiring the signer's voting ID number), but this is a big step forward in the political process. Good job, Justices.

  • hajduk
    June 22, 2010 12:23 p.m.

    "The court ordered Bell's office to recount the signatures and place Anderson's name on the November ballot if 1,000 signatures are found to be valid."

    Thats the point!!! How can you validate E-signatures?!!

  • TedsPal
    June 22, 2010 12:20 p.m.

    What about hackers?? Especially since this may have national implications, there ought to be some means of validating online votes or of proving who you are. I don't think we want hackers deciding our elections.

  • Cedarite
    June 22, 2010 11:55 a.m.

    For those of us in rural areas, electronic petitions may be the only way we can sign without driving for long distances to get to a paper petition.

  • mamiejane
    June 22, 2010 11:45 a.m.

    It helps to actually read the decision. The Court ruled that the legislature was quite clear in allowing for electronic signatures and that it was Shurtleff and Bell who misconstrued the plain language. While no one wants courts to overstep their bounds, we also don't want our elected officials ignoring the law, particularly when the result is keeping keeping people and issues off the ballot.

  • Charles History
    June 22, 2010 11:35 a.m.

    One more time, the conservatives are Wrong again!

  • Laser
    June 22, 2010 11:10 a.m.

    Thanks to the South Carolina elections we know there is massive fraud in the voting system. I also know there is massive fraud with collecting signatures (i.e. tell you one thing at your door but really are using he sigantures for another). I'm opposed to e signatures unless they can be proven and validated as coming from that individual.

  • cynic
    June 22, 2010 11:01 a.m.

    Did anyone notice that Farley Anderson is an extreme right-wing candidate, and that his position was defended by the ACLU?

    Does this mean the court ruling was a victory for the right or for the left? Or does it mean it's a victory for common sense over rules that no longer have a purpose?

  • Hellooo
    June 22, 2010 10:50 a.m.

    From these post, obviously, there are those that believe an appointed judicial aristocracy is more representative of the people, than the elected executive officers. Strange, indeed, especially given the opinion was not just from the Lt. Gov, but also the Attorney General. And, to Utah Dem, the Supreme Court action in the Florida 2000 election was just the opposite of this in which they rule that the State's court could not overturn the elected officials ruling as to valid votes in that state. One wonders how Utah is considered a Conservative state given its activist court system.

  • Charles History
    June 22, 2010 10:45 a.m.

    The conservatives are Wrong again!

  • hajduk
    June 22, 2010 10:33 a.m.

    In no time our elections will be just like California...thousands of signatures and no way to verify them.

  • Wickster77
    June 22, 2010 10:33 a.m.

    "State officials, meanwhile, said Utah's elections operate on a "paper-based system" and electronic signatures would open the process up to fraud and confusion."

    But you can register to vote on line so what's the difference? If that system to register to vote is not "opened up to fraud" then why do they say this is? Oh yeah, because they want to make it hard for us "small people" to make any changes in their big, bad government.

  • Utah Dem
    June 22, 2010 10:28 a.m.

    Jeff - I believe we have a national election decided by a court rather than the voters, remember?

    Electronic signatures should require the voter ID number that too would be another safeguard.

    Just another example of the incompetence of the Lt Governor and the Attorney General of Utah.

  • davidjay
    June 22, 2010 10:15 a.m.

    Maybe because an electronic signature should be as valid as a paper signature. Maybe because the state allows you to conduct business electronically. If you can renew your car tags, you should be able to sign a petition the same way, electronically. This was an example of a government throwing obstacles in the way of the citizens for no apparent reason. Just my opinion.

  • jeffjames
    June 22, 2010 10:01 a.m.

    Going to have to read this opinion. Utah's system has been paper based for many years. Until the legislature takes up this issue itself, I have a hard time understanding how a court could rule in such a manner.