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Politics & Current Affairs


Is signing a petition a public act or a secret ballot? And should signatories be subject to exposure?

“Is signing a petition a public or private act?” asks the Los Angeles Times, discussing the context that gay rights advocates have sought to use petition signatures to expose their opponents. The issue begs a very fundamental question: If you’re prepared to put your name against a cause that is being petitioned, does that name and associated belief become public property? The debate stems from the fight over same-sex marriage in California and follows a Supreme Court ruling last week which voted to block publication of the names of the 138,000 or more people in Washington who signed petitions against the law that allows same-sex marriage. The Los Angeles Times asks: “Is signing a petition and delivering it to the government a public act, like voting on a bill in the legislature or contributing money to a campaign? Or is it more like casting a secret ballot at the polling place?”


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