Mary­land Dream Act foes sub­mit sig­na­tures

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVID HILL

AN­NAPO­LIS | Or­ga­niz­ers of a pe­ti­tion to re­peal Mary­land’s Dream Act turned in their first batch of sig­na­tures May 31, which they hope will be a suf­fi­cient step to­ward forc­ing a ref­er­en­dum on the con­tro­ver­sial law.

Pe­ti­tion­ers had un­til May 31 to sub­mit at least 18,579 valid voter sig­na­tures, one-third of the 55,736 due by June 30, to the Mary­land sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice. If or­ga­niz­ers meet both re­quire­ments, the law al­low­ing many il­le­gal aliens to pay in­state col­lege tu­ition would be sus­pended and put to a Novem­ber 2012 statewide vote.

Or­ga­niz­ers said they would turn in more than 40,000 sig­na­tures, though the sig­na­tures must still be val­i­dated by state elec­tion of­fi­cials. The val­i­da­tion process must be com­pleted by June 22, but elec­tion of­fi­cials said it is un­likely to take that

“Peo­ple are clam­or­ing to sign this pe­ti­tion be­cause they know that this is the right thing to do for Mary­land,” said Del­e­gate Neil C. Par­rott, a Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­can who has led the pe­ti­tion drive.

re­quire­ment of 55,736 sig­na­tures by June 30. The to­tal is equal to 3 per­cent of the num­ber of vot­ers in the last gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion.

“Whether [Dream Act sup­port­ers] heed the mes­sage or not, it doesn’t mat­ter be­cause now the peo­ple are go­ing to speak,” said Del­e­gate Pa­trick L. McDonough, a Bal­ti­more Repub­li­can and hon­orary co-chair- man of the pe­ti­tion drive.

Mr. Par­rott es­ti­mated the pe­ti­tion drive has thus far cost less than $5,000.

The sig­na­tures that were turned in must now be pro­cessed by the state Board of Elec­tions, which will re­view and sep­a­rate the sig­na­ture pages by county be­fore pass­ing them on to their as­signed lo­cal elec­tion boards.

The lo­cal boards will then have to re­view each sig­na­ture to make sure it sat­is­fies state re­quire­ments. The state board will con­duct a fi­nal re­view of all the sig­na­tures.

Many sig­na­tures could be in­val­i­dated, as pe­ti­tions of­ten have hun­dreds or thou­sands of sig­na­tures thrown out due to tech­ni­cal­i­ties, in­clud­ing miss­ing dates, in­cor­rect ad­dresses, and sig­na­ture er­rors such as us­ing a nick­name or omit­ting a mid­dle ini­tial.

Mary C. Wagner, the state Board of Elec­tions’ di­rec­tor of voter reg­is­tra­tion and pe­ti­tions, de­clined to es­ti­mate how long the ver­i­fi­ca­tion process could take but said de­lays could re­sult if a par tic­u­lar county elec­tion board has to process an es­pe­cially large num­ber of sig­na­tures.

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