Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Utah judge weighs arguments on ethics initiative
Courts » Group presses case to put reform on November ballot; state counters that initiative didn’t qualify.
First Published Apr 27 2012 01:41 pm • Last Updated Apr 27 2012 11:01 pm

A judge is considering a Utah group’s fight to place ethics reform on the November ballot.

The group calling itself Utahns for Ethical Government has been fighting the Lieutenant Governor’s Office since 2010 over the ethics initiative, which seeks to establish an independent ethics commission in Utah. UEG officials say the initiative qualifies for the ballot if the group had a calendar year from the time it began collecting signatures, and as long as some petition signatures collected online are counted.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

In court Friday, 3rd District Judge Todd Shaugnessy heard arguments from a UEG lawyer and assistant Attorney General Thomas Roberts before taking the matter under advisement.

Arguing on behalf of the state, Roberts asked the judge to grant summary judgment, claiming UEG did not have enough signatures at the April 2010 deadline to qualify for the ballot.

UEG attorney Alan Smith countered that the group should have been given a calendar year to complete collecting signatures, which would have put the deadline in August.

While Roberts said the Legislature intended to give groups only until April of a general election year to gather enough signatures, Smith said the law’s language allowed the group to "straddle election cycles."

Roberts, however, argued the law was intended to give petitioners only "up to one year" to gather enough signatures. If the effort fails by the April 15 deadline, the group should have to start over, he said.

"We think the Legislature chose a process to give you one bite at the apple," Roberts argued.

"If there is a question, it should be read liberally in a way that furthers the citizens’ right — their constitutional right — to petition their government for redress," Smith said.

If Shaughnessy agrees the group should have been given a calendar year, the judge must still decide on whether to count signatures collected electronically.


story continues below
story continues below

The group collected an estimated 130,000 signatures, including more than 1,000 electronic signatures.

Utah officials have said so-called e-signatures should not count and are more susceptible to fraud and bad collecting practices.

In 2010, the Utah Supreme Court ruled in favor of gubernatorial candidate Farley Anderson, who collected signatures online to meet the 1,000 valid-voter signatures required for an independent candidate to get on a ballot. UEG filed a friend of the court brief in the matter, but the high court kept its ruling narrow and did not address the issue of initiative petitions.

A year later, the Legislature passed a law banning electronic signatures for election purposes, though they are accepted by the state for many other purposes. This year, however, lawmakers voted in favor of a bill ordering the study of electronic signatures.

afalk@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.