Maryland "Dream Act" referendum opponents challenge petitions

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August 3, 2011

By Bailey Ludlam

Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland: The court will decide whether the proposed In-State Tuition Referendum was on the 2012 statewide ballot following a lawsuit filed on Monday, August 1.

Casa de Maryland and other opponents filed a lawsuit in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court against the proposed measure. According to reports, the lawsuit argues that more than half of the collected petition signatures were collected illegally.[1]

Specifically, plaintiffs argue two points. The process of collecting signatures was ripe for fraud considering that signers used a website, mdpetitions.com, to download and print voter information. "If I know your birth date and where you live, your ZIP code, assuming you live in Maryland, I can put in your name, the computer program will print out a form with everybody’s name who lives in that household who is registered to vote. I can sign your name and have other people sign those other names, and no one would know the difference because the signatures aren’t checked against anything," said Joseph Sandler, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney working for Casa of Maryland.[2]

Del. Neil Parrott, chairman of the petition group, said, "This fraud that they’re saying could exist has always existed in every petition drive. What they’re saying is there are not petitions that could exist in Maryland."[2]

Additionally, plaintiffs argue that the state tuition law cannot be subject to referendum because the Maryland Constitution prohibits referendums on laws that maintain or aid a public institution.[3]

The proposed referendum, also known as the "Dream Act" referendum was certified for the ballot on July 22. The proposed measure calls for overturning legislation that guarantees in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.[4]

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