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SALT LAKE CITY - State law does not permit the use of electronic signature gathering in the state initiative process, according to a legal opinion from the Utah Attorney General's Office.

Based upon the Attorney General's analysis, Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell has announced that electronic signatures will not be valid for the purposes of certifying an initiative or referendum for inclusion on a state ballot.

"My office has recently received questions from those involved in the initiative process questioning if the counties and the Lieutenant Governor's Office would accept electronic signatures gathered using the Internet," said Lieutenant Governor Bell, Utah's Chief Elections Officer.

"In response to those questions, I sought the opinion of the Utah Attorney General's Office, which represents our office," the Lieutenant Governor said. "That opinion, returned to my office late Tuesday, makes clear current Utah law does not contemplate the possibility of gathering signatures online."

The legal opinion states, in part: "The statutory provisions specifying the processes and procedures for the circulation of initiative petition/packets and the gathering of signatures do not contemplate or allow for the use of electronic signatures."

It further states: "...electronic signatures that are gathered in connection with the pending initiatives do not comply with current statutory provisions and should not be allowed or counted toward satisfying the signature requirements."

In this age of technology, Lieutenant Governor Bell suggested that lawmakers examine the issue. "The Legislature may wish to consider this issue of electronic signatures in the initiative and referendum process."

Download: Full opinion from Attorney General Mark Shurtleff

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