Maryland Dream Act foes submit signatures
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.