Richard M. Lindstrom signed a petition, but his signature didn’t count.
The analytical chemist for the federal government left off his middle initial. He told the Washington Post, “I dropped my middle initial on my official signature, oh, I don’t know, probably 40 years ago. It’s my signature. It’s acceptable to my bank and everybody else. But not the Board of Elections.”
Welcome to Montgomery County, Maryland. The Old Line State may lack a statewide initiative, but it does have a robust initiative and referendum process at the county level of government. Unfortunately, as many as 80 percent of the signatures for two initiative petitions — one for term limits and another on ambulance fees — were recently invalidated by county officials. In 2008, the Maryland Court of Appeals declared that a person’s signature on a petition must be presented precisely as signed on his or her voter registration form or, alternatively, must include the surname from the registration and one full given name as well as the initials of all other names.
Longtime petition activist Robin Ficker led the term limits drive. But his signature didn’t count either. While he signed “Robin K. Ficker,” his full name is Robin Keith Annesley Ficker. He forgot the initial “A.”
“They are not even letting people have the chance to vote,” Ficker argued as he and others appeal the petition decision. “It’s the antithesis of a democracy. It’s what they would do in, like, Zimbabwe.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.