Washington (CNN) - Voters in Utah can now go online and sign a petition to qualify candidates for public office, the state's highest court ruled Tuesday.
The unanimous decision ordered state officials to accept e-signatures on otherwise valid applications for a place on a ballot.
"We are persuaded that a signature under (state law) does not require a signor to physically handle a piece of paper and sign her name with a pen," wrote Chief Justice Christine Durham for her colleagues on the state Supreme Court. "An electronic signature is sufficient to satisfy the election code."
The ruling came as voters went to the polls for primary elections in Utah.
Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell had rejected Farley Anderson's nominating petition in March. The independent candidate for governor had about 150 electronic signatures on his form. The court has now ordered a recount of the signatures to see if Anderson will qualify for the November ballot.
"We cannot see how the manner the signor elects to place his name on an unaffiliated candidate's petition for nomination has any impact on the signor's intent to support the petitioner's candidacy," said the state justices.
The ruling could have an impact nationwide, and could prove a boost for office-seekers not affiliated with the two major political parties. No state currently allows e-signatures on election petitions and ballots. The ruling also could open the door for allowing e-signatures for getting issue referendums on the ballot.
"The court's opinion, which is the first of its kind nationwide, also has the potential to increase significantly the ability of independent candidates to access the general election ballots," said Darcy Goddard, legal director for the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a written statement.
The ACLU represented Anderson in his lawsuit against the state.
The ruling noted Anderson used the website https://www.i-sign.us to solicit support for his candidacy. A similar petition is online for his running mate for lieutenant governor, Steven Maxfield.
There was no immediate reaction to the ruling from state election officials.
The case is Anderson v. Bell (No. 20100237).
With all the problems we had with the Diebold voting machines which illegally put a Texas goofball in office, they want to trust online signatures? Sheesh.
Easier than going door to door. My question, will they accept names from a Facebook candidate page?
Round up the Mormon taliban.
Won't this open up Utah elections to registering dead people and others not allowed to vote?
Those lawmakers in the great state of LDS have got to STOP drinkin' that water from the Salt Lake for cryin' out loud.
It will only take a 10th grade computer geek about 5 minutes to hack into the system and before you know it BINGO! – you have a rethugliCANT running for office on the platform that everybody in the state of LDS has to wear magic underwear of leave the state...
While I am for the ease of use of the Internet in voting, the chance for fraud is huge. Without some authentication technology required, I don't see how this can lead to anything but cheating.
This has corruption written all over it. Let's make it easier to rig elections
What could possibly go wrong with this in a Red State?
Why bother having a petition? Just put anyone who wants to run on a ballot.
The purpose of the signature is to prove that a registered voter has said tey want a perosn to run.
Utah has now said that " a computer has chosen you to run for office".
This isn't progress, this hypocracy, Now either party can sign poeple up claiming to be that person and then when they coerce that perosn to show up at the polls last minute, they will have another voter. Or have they also decised you don't need to do that either.? Maybe you could just Twitter your vote in!
Sounds like open season for fraudulent petitions in Utah.
'There are no real elections in Utah anyway. All candidates are vetted and the majority vote party line for R. Why even bother having elections, just have the powerful delegates appoint their LDS and male favorite.