Signatures for submitting a referendum can be collected online

Signatures for submitting a referendum can be collected online

The government has given the green light to the activation of the electronic platform to collect digital signatures to propose referendums and bills of popular initiative. This was announced by the Ministry of Technological Innovation, which communicated the signing of the implementing decree by the government. The platform developed by Sogei, the IT company of the Ministry of Economy, will become operational as soon as the decree is published in the Official Journal. A result driven by the commitment of Marco Cappato, treasurer of the Luca Coscioni Association, who has always fought for the right to simplify the presentation of referendum proposals.

On the basis of what is read in the press release by Minister Vittorio Colao, the decree was prepared in line with the recommendations of the Ministry of Justice and the Privacy Guarantor. The platform will guarantee the full digitalization of the signature collection process, in compliance with all the security and technological adequacy requirements established by law. With the integration of the electoral lists managed by the municipalities into the national registry of the resident population (Anpr), the platform will be able to automatically check whether the signatories have electorate rights or not.

How the portal will be The battle The Kafkaesque story of the blocking of the digital collection of signatures for the elections The appeal presented by Marco Cappato's Referendum and Democracy list was rejected in Milan, after not being admitted to the elections of 25 September having collected the signatures online. The judge says he cannot verify the signatures, but they are located in the electoral offices

What will the portal look like

The platform will be organized in a private and a public area, which can be easily accessed through a portal dedicated. Access will be divided into three types of users: one for the promoters of referendums or popular initiative laws, one for those who want to sign the proposals and one for the staff of the Court of Cassation.

The private area will allow the promoters to manage the referendum proposal and to monitor the progress of the collection of signatures. In this section it will be possible to choose the type of initiative to register, ask for the proposal to be uploaded, see the preview, check the data entered and immediately start the collection of signatures. Furthermore, people will be able to access the private area, through their digital identity, and sign a referendum proposal or a popular initiative law by clicking on an ad hoc button.

Finally, again through the private area, the staff of the Court of Cassation will have the necessary tools to activate and monitor the subscription collection process. The public area, on the other hand, will be used by citizens to consult the submitted proposals, the relative information, the number of signatures collected and the number necessary to reach the quorum.

The battle

Ci it took a year to reach the finish line, since Parliament also approved the collection of digital signatures to propose referendums. The provision was included in decree 77 of 2021, so-called Simplifications, after the green light of the Constitutional Affairs and Environment commissions, despite the negative opinion of the government. There was talk of a historic turning point, which would finally change an old and inadequate regulatory framework, allowing for greater democratic participation of all citizens.

The positive effects of the introduction of the digital signature came immediately. The most striking demonstration was the incredible participation in the collection of signatures to support the referendum proposal on the decriminalization of cannabis and euthanasia. In a record time, both referendum proposals have consistently exceeded the 500,000 signatures ceiling, also thanks to digital signatures, used by a million people.

At a certain point, however, the process seemed to have stalled and the platform, promised for January 2022. Instead, one of the last years of Minister Colao gives the green light to the project. The question of digital signatures to present a list in the elections remains open. Although the Referendum and Democracy list with Marco Cappato could count on the support of an adequate number of signatures to present their candidacy, the Courts of Appeal and Cassation did not recognize as valid the subscriptions collected in digital format. Now the group intends to bring the case to international courts.

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