SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah

Utah OnLaw: The Utah Law Review Online Supplement


Electronic signatures have become increasingly accepted in the law, but even so, validation and legitimacy come slowly. Congress and the various states have taken substantial steps to create uniform standards for electronic records and signatures through the passage of legislation like E-SIGN and UETA.

But as the Utah Supreme Court observed, there are other valid “transactions” in the law where these statutes should apply. In Anderson v. Bell, it applied to an independent candidate’s ballot qualification. The Utah Legislature disagreed, however, and amended the Utah Election Code to exclude electronic signatures.

This Note advocates expanding the reach of an electronic signature into other areas of election law. This includes instances involving qualifying independent candidates for the ballot; petitions to organize and register political parties; and qualifying ballot propositions such as recalls, initiatives, and referenda. This expansion of electronic signatures would increase the involvement of the electorate through the efficiency, ease, and reliability associated with the use of electronic signatures in election law. The use of electronic signatures in election law increases the ability of a democratic society to directly participate in crafting public policy and engage elected representatives.

The Utah Legislature should reconsider its actions and apply the UETA to the Utah Election Code as a logical and worthwhile expansion of electronic signatures in the law. The inevitable march of technology will carry on. Electronic signatures should not be limited to commercial and business transactions but should apply to election codes where a physical signature has traditionally been required. The Utah Legislature should reclaim Utah’s historic place as a leader of expanding the use of electronic signatures in the law.