CGS report on online signature gathering for ballot measures

Walter S. Baer and Roy Ulrich recently authored a report for the Center for Governmental Studies, “Online Signature Gathering for California Initiatives. Here’s the summary:

he Center for Governmental Studies commissioned “Online Signature Gathering for California Initiatives” as part of its recently-released Democracy By Initiative (2nd Edition). This report analyzes the feasibility of gathering signatures online as part of the circulation process to qualify initiatives for the ballot. Though not adopted as one of CGS’s recommendations, the authors of the report conclude that though the risk of fraud remains a potential stumbling block, there is the real risk of forgery associated with the use of handwritten signatures for one of the most popular methods of voting: absentee balloting. And yet, most jurisdictions allow it. The main benefit of adding electronic signature gathering to the mix of permitted signature gathering methods is that grass-root groups, many of whom lack the financial resources to qualify an initiative under the current system, would find it easier to make it to the ballot.