Court upholds redistricting petition -- Gazette.Net


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Just two weeks before Election Day and four days before polls open for early voting in Maryland, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the signatures that brought Question 5 to the ballot were legal and valid.

Question 5 asks voters whether or not they support the congressional district map that Gov. Martin O’Malley’s redistricting committee proposed and the legislature approved. Opponents claim that the map is a blatant gerrymander and divides communities in oddly shaped districts drawn to protect Democrats and incumbent lawmakers.

The map itself was upheld in court as legal, a decision affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Five Maryland voters and the Democratic State Central Committee — later dropped for lack of standing — alleged that 14,254 of the 59,201 signatures accepted by the State Board of Elections were not valid.

Just more than 55,700 signatures were needed to put the question on the ballot, so if the court had ruled differently, the question would have been removed from the ballot.

The question was whether the same individual signing the petition also could attest to his or her signature.

In a 4-3 vote, the state’s high court held that computer-generated petitions were valid and that the law makes no distinction that the petition circulator be anyone different from the person signing the petition.

hnunn@gazette.net