Search Site
Menu

Municipal Clerk can Accept Electronic Signatures

On November 30, 2021, the Appellate Division further enforced and upheld a new staple of the Covid-19 world: electronic signatures. In Township Of Montclair Committee of Petitioners et al. v. Township Of Montclair, et al., Docket No. A-2315-20, the Court considered a municipal clerk’s decision regarding electronic signature verification. The Court concluded that the clerk acted arbitrarily by failing to contact voters to confirm their votes prior rejecting their signatures due to the inconsistencies between electronic signatures and their pen-and-ink counterparts, particularly during Covid-19 when electronic signatures cannot be avoided.

Plaintiffs collected signatures in the Township of Montclair to challenge an ordinance adopting rent regulation provisions. N.J.S.A. 40:69A-184 requires the signatures of fifteen percent of the registered voter population to effectuate a petition for referendum. Plaintiff collected 1,528 electronic signatures. The township clerk rejected 168 signatures because the voter’s e-signature did not match the pen-and-ink signatures on record with the State of New Jersey Registration Voter System.

Plaintiff collected additional signatures, which the clerk also rejected. Due to the clerk’s rejection of certain signatures, Plaintiff did not have sufficient signatures to place the issue on the ballot. Plaintiff sought relief via verified complaint filed with the Superior Court, arguing that the clerk’s decision to reject certain signatures was arbitrary.

N.J.S.A. 40:69A-187 requires the clerk to “determine . . . whether the petition is signed by a sufficient number of qualified voters.” Yet, there is no statutory directive for the clerk to following in making his or her determination. New Jersey Courts have imputed a liberal standard for accepting signatures. Citing the 1968 opinion of Stone v. Wyckoff, 102 N.J. Super. 26, 34 (App. Div.1968), despite having been “written in a less complicated pen-and-ink world,” the Appellate Division reaffirmed that “absent significant variance between the signature in question and the signature in the voter registry,” there is a presumption of genuineness.

Indeed, the Montclair Township clerk acknowledged that signing a screen with a mouse or finger may look different from a pen-and-ink signature. While the clerk spent “many hours” analyzing the signatures, the Appellate Division identified a more effective way of spending that time: “reaching out to those voters for confirmation before taking the grave step of disenfranchising them.” Particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which necessitated electronic signatures, the Court concluded that “the clerk’s failure to reach out to those voters whose e-signatures were, in the clerk’s view, doubtful or at variance with the voter registry was arbitrary and capricious.”

Our Attorneys

Recent Twitter Posts

  • New Jersey sets emergency water standards for new chemicals. https://t.co/trgaaLL1mD
    5 months ago
  • How will New Jersey manage stormwater as the climate changes and flooding increases? https://t.co/dhVLALyzZ2
    5 months ago
  • Unprecedented storms are slamming NJ – learn how to be the best advocate for your clients when the next flood hits.… https://t.co/TicH6iAjP0
    5 months ago
  • Trenton Water Works has removed 25 percent of lead pipes throughout its service area. https://t.co/KUvhMsJlvU
    5 months ago

Recent Blog Posts

Supreme Court concludes that attorney review period is not a requirement of absolute auction contracts

On June 9, 2022, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously decided that attorney review period is not a required contractual provision for a residential real estate sale by absolute auction.
Read More
Supreme Court concludes that attorney review period is not a requirement of absolute auction contracts

It Depends on the Language – The Non-Disparagement Clause

How enforceable is a non-disparagement clause in an agreement? As is always the case with any contract or agreement, it depends on the language. On May 31, 2022, the Appellate Division
Read More
It Depends on the Language – The Non-Disparagement Clause

DCA Tries Again to Use RSIS to Limit Municipal Stormwater Controls

By Michele Donato, Esq. and Stuart Lieberman, Esq. In the 1990’s, developers claimed that municipal residential development ordinances lacked uniformity, increased development costs, and caused uncertainty in the development process. In
Read More
DCA Tries Again to Use RSIS to Limit Municipal Stormwater Controls

Previous Property Manager Charged with Embezzling and Laundering Stolen Funds from Hamilton Park CO-OP.

Nicolas DePaola of Ewing New Jersey was indicted on twelve charges for embezzling and laundering stolen money from his prior client, Hamilton Park CO-OP. On April 1, 2022, a Mercer
Read More
Previous Property Manager Charged with Embezzling and Laundering Stolen Funds from Hamilton Park CO-OP.

In The Media

  • Gulf Coast Town Center facing foreclosure

    Naples Daily News, September 16, 2015

    Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit Sept. 8 against an affiliate of CBL & Associates, the owners of the decadeold, 1.2 million-square-foot mall in south Fort Myers for a $190.9 million unpaid loan. The center has 94 stores on 204 acres, with such anchors as Super Target, Belk, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls and Costco...

    Read More
  • Town liable for private company's leaking underground tanks, court rules

    NJ.com Jul 26, 2017

    CRANFORD -- A couple that owned a businesses in town and became sick from leaking underground tanks owned by an adjacent business can sue the township for damages because the tanks were partially ...

    Read More
  • Dark Waters: How a Class Action Catapulted NJ to Forefront of 'Forever Chemicals' Battle

    NJ Law Journal Jan 09, 2020

    As property owners become increasingly aware of PFAS contamination, and as individuals exposed to PFAS learn of the health risks associated with exposure, liability will likely affect entire supply chains.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Contact Our Firm

Quick Contact Form