July 6, 2011

Court of Appeal Rejects Electronic Signatures on Petitions in California

REMEMBER THE electronic signatures case? That's the case where a Redwood Shores man signed a ballot initiative petition (related to Proposition 19, a marijuana legalization initiative) with an electronic signature and I rejected the signature based on an interpretation of California Election law.

The electronic signature matter was first heard in the San Mateo County Superior Court. Judge George Miram rejected the idea that the signature was legal and the case subsequently went to the 1st District Court of Appeals in San Francisco and was heard again on May 10.

three-judge panel ruled on July 1 that the state elections code doesn't allow electronic signatures on petitions. (Read the court's opinion here).

The panel said it would be up to the Legislature to decide on whether to change the law. Justice Sandra Margulies wrote, "The Legislature did not anticipate the use of electronic signatures when it drafted the statue and has since taken no action that can be construed as approving them for this purpose."

"The Legislature...is the proper body to determine whether and how to incorporate this technology, with its new risks and equal promise, into the process of initiative endorsement," the court said.

The electronic signatures was signed by hand on the screen of an iPhone, using software developed by
Verafirma, a Silicon Valley startup.

You might recall that Proposition 19 got onto the state ballot without the rejected electronic signature but was rejected by voters on November 2, 1010 - the date of the General Gubernatorial election.

Stay tuned - the electronic signature question may now head to the US Supreme Court.


Parveen said...


lauren said...

From this case I can conclude that although electronic signatures are reliable used in legal cases these days but it will take some more time to make people aware of how to use them properly with caution.Well written update.Thanks
digital signature