Petition process goes high tech 

California’s Citizen Power Campaign (http://unplugthepoliticalmachine.org/) needs 700,000 verified voter signatures to get an initiative aimed at stopping public employee unions from using member dues for political activities on the ballot in November. For the first time ever, they’re collecting signatures on an iPhone application.

Verafirma, a Silicon Valley tech company that develops electronic signature solutions for major government and financial institutions, has pioneered the Democracy Project, using the same technology for grassroots political activism.

The company says that using an iPhone application to collect voter signatures that local elections officials can compare to those on file meets every requirement of the California Elections Code. It also claims the Democracy Project will reduce fraud, improve the quality of citizen initiatives, and end the practice of hiring paid signature gatherers. And since the cost of circulating a statewide petition can run into millions of dollars, Verafirma’s app allows ordinary citizens access to “the people’s constitutionally enshrined initiative process” that only wealthy special interest groups can currently afford.

The initiative is a political hot potato in California, but it’s hard to see how the courts could forbid petitioners from using the same technology that’s already been approved – and enforced - for legal and financial transactions.

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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