(TRENTON) – Aiming to provide elderly and physically challenged individuals who are unable to write with secure alternatives to a handwritten signature, legislation to allow fingerprints and other identifying marks to be used as a legal signature was approved Monday by the full Assembly, 73-0.
The bill (A-242), sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling (both D-Monmouth), would clarify that a legal signature could be a handwritten or electronic signature, fingerprint or thumbprint or any other mark made on a document by a person who intends to give legal effect to the document. These marks could also be used as a written signature for voting purposes.
Assemblyman DeAngelo, Assemblywoman Downey and Assemblyman Houghtaling released the following joint statement:
“Many people don’t think twice when they are asked to sign a document, but for a person who is unable to write, the process can be challenging and potentially embarrassing. Under current law, residents who are unable to write can put an ‘X’ as their signature, a practice that began in the mid-1800s when many people could not read or write. As a result, today many feel an ‘X’ stigmatizes elderly or disabled individuals as illiterate or uneducated.
“Allowing fingerprints and identifying marks to be used as legal signatures will remove this stigma and provide those who are unable to write with safe, secure options for signing checks, voting records and other important documents.”