Backers of initiatives for the November ballot find themselves scrambling for signatures on the streets and in the courts.
Today is frantic for backers of the Fair Boundaries and Utahns for Ethical Government petitions. The former petition would put redistricting in the hands of an independent commission instead of the Legislature, while the latter would set-up an citizen commission to handle legislative ethics complaints. The deadline for submitting their required 95,000 signatures is closing time at the county clerks today, which is 5 p.m. in most places. While both groups remain somewhat optimistic, the tenor of their comments -- including this press release yesterday from UEG -- indicates that they are going to be very, very close to the threshold.
However, the struggle doesn't end there. Lawyers for UEG were in court this morning, trying to protect the names of the people who signed the petition, primarily to prevent harassment form opponents of the initiatives. Remember, the Republican legislators -- who hate initiatives almost as much as they hate environmentalists and the Obama-run federal government -- passed a law this session that permitted people to remove their names 30 days after the deadline. That obviously gives the opponents an extra month to strong-arm those who did sign the petition.
That's not the only court fight, however. Lt. Gov. Greg Bell ruled that online signatures were invalid last month, but both groups are appealing that to the courts, as well. Today, neither group is currently permitting online signatures, which UEG says is because of the lawsuit but Fair Boundaries claims on their website that it is because of high traffic.
For those of you who haven't signed the petition and want to sign them, go to your local county clerk. That's your best bet to find somebody gathering the signatures. If you want information on the initiatives, visit the above linked websites. If you're hesitant to sign the things because you don't understand them, go sign them and then review the arguments, because after all, the Legislature gave you an extra 30 days to take your name off of the petition.