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Electronic signatures fingered in Santa Clara County - foolproof!

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Santa Clara County is now accepting voter registration verified with a finger-scrawled signature, showing how an iPad or iPhone really can do anything paper can.

Voters in the US have to register prior to the election, normally using a traditional clipboard and pen to sign their name. But Santa Clara County residents are now able to substitute that with a finger-scribble, though the registrar will still be printing it out prior to comparison with the mailed-in vote.

Tim Howell was the first local to use the system, reports the Mercury News: he works in PR and responded to a Facebook appeal for voters wanting to try the new system.

The system doesn't require any changes to the law, as California law simply states that a "signature" must be "delivered" prior to voting, so as long as one adopts a suitably broad definition of those terms the system is already permissible.

The company providing the technology, Verafirma, is adamant that a signature generated with a finger is just as verifiable as that produced with a Bic. In fact the company goes further, with claims that by recording the signing sequence (the order of strokes) the signature is even more identifiable (pdf).

That makes a certain amount of sense, and electronic signatures have been used by delivery companies for years, but it's hard to imagine the creaking UK electoral system adopting iPads any time soon.

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