President Barack Obama was on vacation with his family in Hawaii when Congress signed the fiscal cliff deal into law on Wednesday January 2, 2013. Hawaii is 4,800 miles away from his colleagues in Washington D.C. So how did he sign the law? He authorized the use of his signature with an “autopen.” Automated Signature Technology has developed a gadget called the Ghostwriter.
The Ghostwriter is manufactured in the USA. After you print your letter, you insert your signature card into the machine. Once inserted, you line the letter up with the signature area and tap on the pedal built into the machine. The signature is done in seconds. Below is a video of how it works. President Obama used the Ghostwriter because the fiscal cliff was on a tight timeline to pass.
After a bill is passed by Congress, the Constitution states that it must be sent to the White House to get signed by the president. Either the bill would have to be sent to Obama through by air or it could be done with the autopen. Since the bill was very time-sensitive, the bill was signed with the Ghostwriter.
This is the third time that President Obama signed the bill with autopen. He used it in May 2011 to sign a Patriot Act extension from a G8 summit in France and the second time was in November 2011 from Indonesia.