Sunday, December 22, 2013

John Matsusaka, President of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at USC, endorses e-signatures for official initiative petitions

 John G. Matsusaka is the Charles F. Sexton Chair in American Enterprise in the Marshall School of Business, Gould School of Law, and Department of Political Science at the University of Southern California, and President of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at USC.

Asked for a comment about the campaign by the Coalition for an E-Initiative to allow eligible Californians to sign official initiative and related petitions online, he today issued this statement to Etopia News:

"The right of the people to petition the government goes back to the founding of the Republic and the right of the people to propose new laws by initiative goes back more than a century in California and other states. In the 21st Century, when a vast amount of communication and business takes place online, it only makes sense to take advantage of contemporary technology to allow citizens to exercise their petition rights electronically."

The Coaltion for an E-Initiative (CFEI), launched as a Facebook page on February 15, 2013, is working to legalize online signature-gathering, also known as e-signatures or “Smart Initiatives,” in California and half-a-dozen other western states (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington State) that already allow their citizens to register online to vote and have the initiative process but do not yet allow online signature gathering on official initiative and related petitions.

The CFEI is the brainchild of Marc Strassman, partner in the private equity firm Green Asset Finance, and a long-time champion of digital democracy.

He is, for example, the author of the turn-of-the-century non-fiction volume “Etopian Elections:  Internet Voting, Smart Initiatives, and the Future of (Electronic) Democracy, available online at:

You can see and hear him talking about Smart Initiatives in 1999 at IBM’s Institute for Electronic Government, at:

You can hear his 2002 cyber-democracy plan for the never-realized “Valley City” (Los Angeles secession campaign) at:

You can catch his virtual address to the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy at:

For a video panel discussion he produced and hosted about “"Electoral Evolution Beyond Online Voter Registration" with election officials from Arizona, Utah, and Washington State, recorded on October 9, 2012, on Etopia News, using Google+ Hangouts On Air, go to:

He urges all those who support a citizen’s right to use the Internet to sign official initiative and related petitions online to visit the Coalition for an E-Initiative Facebook page at:

“like” the page and leave your own comments on the issue of e-signatures on official initiative petitions.

(FULL  DISCLOSURE:  This article was written by Marc Strassman, reporter at, and publisher of, Etopia News.)

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