Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Salt Lake Tribune: ACLU Joins State Ballot Access Case

UEG also plans to file an Amicus brief in support of electronic signatures

For those lumpencitizens still wondering whether the ACLU is relevant in Utah, we find evidence that the Utah ACLU Chapter is indeed alive and well. This morning's Salt Lake Tribune reports on a fascinating legal development which will no doubt affect the ongoing UEG citizen's ethics reform petition drive, which has been a topic of discussion on Weber County Forum over the past six or so months. Here's the lede from this morning's Cathy McKitrick story:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah will represent aspiring candidate Farley Anderson as he takes his electronic-signature battle to the state Supreme Court on June 2.
In March, Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell rejected Anderson as an independent candidate for governor because a small portion of his required 1,000 signatures were gathered online.
Anderson initially planned to represent himself, but Attorney Brent Manning of Salt Lake City-based Manning Curtis Bradshaw & Bednar LLC will now argue his case before Utah's high court on behalf of the ACLU.
"I took this case with the ACLU to support and affirm the proposition in this state that access to the ballot should be fair and equal to all -- not just the powerful who are affiliated with political parties," Manning said during a Monday news conference at the ACLU's Salt Lake City office.
Karen McCreary, executive director of Utah's ACLU, said the case raises significant legal issues that impact every Utah voter.Lt. Gov. Bell based his rejection of Anderson's candidacy on a written opinion from the state Attorney General's Office, maintaining that Utah's petition process is solely paper-based.Manning will argue that Bell overstepped his authority.
In the interest of efficiently marshalling their own legal resources, UEG lawyers have so far refrained from filing their own lawsuit to challenge Lt. Governor Bell's stated policy of rejecting electronic citizens' initiative petitions; but it appears now that the pendency of the Anderson matter has forced the UEG's hand:
Utahns for Ethical Government -- backers of a broad ethics initiative aimed at reforming conduct of state lawmakers -- plans to join in by filing a friend of the court brief in support of electronic signatures.[...]
"We will tailor our arguments specifically to the initiative statute," said Alan Smith, an attorney who helped draft UEG's measure.
According to Ms. McKitrick's story, the appellant in this matter will tackle Lt. Governor Bell's position head-on, and will rely upon provisions of Utah's Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which broadly authorizes the use of electronic transactions as substitutes for paper ones:
In 2000, Utah lawmakers enacted the Electronic Transaction Act to allow electronic signatures to be used for a multitude of government services. Statutory definitions were also amended to allow electronic writings to substitute for those on paper.
"The process we followed with the lieutenant governor was all electronic," Smith said. "The AG's opinion ignores that reality."
We've been standing by eagerly waiting for the legal fur to start flying on this issue; and it appears that the action starts on June 2.

We'll be following developments in this case closely and will report back as this case moves along. But in the meantime forks, we're furnishing a link for those readers who'd like to put their signatures on a hard-copy petition, while the issues surrounding the electronic versions are sorted out in court. Straight from the UEG website, here's a list of locations where you can affix your signature to a paper petition:
Weber County
• Joyce Wilson (Senate District 18) 979 27th Ogden, UT 801-941-1613
• Ogden-Weber UniServ (Senate District 18) 939 25th St Ogden, UT 84401 801-399-3746
• Lou Shurtliff (Senate District 19) 5085 Aztec Dr Ogden, Ut 84403 801-479-028 lmshurtliff@comcast.net
• Dr. Ed Allen’s office 3860 Jackson Ave. Ogden, Utah
Oddly enough, we'll note that this is the first time within memory that we've ever been in agreement with Ed Allen on any significant political issue, by the way. So just for kicks, why not drop by Dr. Allen's office this afternoon to sign a petition... and tell him Rudi sent ya's?

Update 5/25/10 6:12 p.m.: We're delighted to flesh out the above writeup with this UEG press release, received via email a few minutes ago:

Utahns for Ethical Government Supports ACLU of Utah in Electronic Signature Issue Before Utah Supreme Court


just wonderin' said...

How many signatures do we still need in Weber County, Rudi?

RudiZink said...

We need 4000 signatures in Weber County, disributed within our three Senate Disticts.

We're petty good with Senate 18, so far, but Chritensen's senate district, which sprawls from North Ogden to Summit county, remains a problem.

UEG also needs about 1,000 signatures in Scott Jenkin's District.

And Justice for all said...

Wow, that is wonderful, I wonder where the ACLU was about the Powder Mountain homeowners?

RudiZink said...

Make sure you sign the hardcopy UEG petitions. AJFA.

Once we have a robust code of conduct for our legislature, and a robust Independant Ethics Committee to back it up, people like the Powdervillains will finally have the means to bring justice to their situation.

Don't listen to the craven GOP scaremongers.

Just sign the friggin' petition, ferchrissake!

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