ACLU of Utah Seeks to File Amicus Brief Arguing That A Ban On Electronic Signatures In The Initiative Process Is Unconstitutional

Affiliate: ACLU of Utah
July 17, 2012 11:27 am

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Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, along with cooperating attorneys David C. Reymann and Chad R. Derum, moved for leave to file an amicus curiae brief to the Utah Supreme Court in the case of Utahns for Ethical Government v. Clerks for All Counties in the State of Utah. If its motion is granted, the ACLU of Utah plans to argue that a ban on counting electronic signatures in the initiative process is unconstitutional.

In this case, Utahns for Ethical Government (“UEG”) has worked to place an initiative on the ballot of this year’s general election. As part of those efforts, various disputes arose between UEG and election officials, and UEG brought suit in Utah state district court to resolve them. As part of that suit, UEG asked the district court to rule that any electronic signatures UEG collected in support of placing the initiative on the ballot must be counted. On June 6, 2012, the district court denied UEG’s motion, appearing to reason that electronic signatures could never comply with Utah’s statutory requirements for gathering, submitting, processing, and counting signatures for initiative petitions.

The ACLU of Utah intends to argue as a “friend of the court” that precluding electronic signatures, whether expressly or impliedly, violates the Utah Constitution, which expressly grants the right for citizen to file initiatives and referenda. “Because Utah has specifically guaranteed its citizens the right to participatory democracy through initiatives and referenda, any law making participation more difficult is suspect,” said John Mejia, Legal Director of the ACLU of Utah. “We intend to argue to the Utah Supreme Court that disallowing electronic signatures gathered to support initiatives will exclude thousands of Utahns who happen to be out of the state—such as students, missionaries, and members of the military—from participating. Such a massive exclusion from the ability to exercise a fundamental right does not comport with the Utah constitution.”

To download the Motion for Leave to File Brief of Amicus Curiae please visit

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