People of the Solution

We suffer for our art. Yesterday, I sat through four excruciating hours of legislative hearings before the Ways and Means Committee of Maryland’s House of Delegates. I was waiting to testify on behalf of Citizens in Charge against House Bill 493.

For 20 years before last November, not a single referendum made it onto the Maryland ballot. Why? The state has the country’s most draconian rules for verifying petition signatures. An attorney running his own petition effort had his signature disallowed because he did not sign one of his two middle names or write the initial.

Most states use the standard of “substantial compliance” — if they can tell it is the signature of the registered voter, they count it, even if it doesn’t appear exactly as written on the voter registration record. Maryland’s strict compliance, on the other hand, disallows the signature of “Joe” rather than “Joseph.”

But you can’t keep good people down. A group called MDPetitions.com, led by Delegate Neil Parrott and April Parrott, his wife, found a way to provide online help in filling out the petition correctly, so that people’s signatures could count. They petitioned three separate bills to referendums last November by working both online and on the streets.

They lost all three, but in the process they brought the right to referendum back to life in Maryland.

Which brings me back to House Bill 493, against which I finally got to speak for five minutes. Among its myriad provisions to knee-cap petition efforts, most distressing is the one making it illegal to provide citizens with their voter registration information to help them fill out a referendum petition online.

Yes, the legislature is in session.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

5 Comments so far ↓

  1. Feb
    22
    4:51
    PM
    Sheila Dure-Smith

    Curbing the people’s voice further must be stopped

  2. Feb
    22
    5:14
    PM
    Rick_in_VA

    Just one more reason why calling Maryland the “Free State” is such a big joke.

  3. Feb
    23
    6:51
    AM
    Drik

    Ladders up!

  4. Feb
    24
    7:19
    AM
    Frank

    I continue to learn from you Paul; thank you. I am most gracious for your time, encouragement, and suggestions you provided a few weeks back to get Alabama to be #25.
    Gonna be an uphill climb on a slippy slope but Alabamians deserve to be more involved as you described.
    Suggestions and support (no money!) in particularly from Alabamians, is welcomed and needed.
    Please contact me via my web site.

  5. Feb
    26
    12:59
    PM
    Linda

    Maryland is a hick demorat state.

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