A deeply divided Maryland high court agreed to allow us to vote on congressional redistricting plans.
The plaintiffs are some of the powers to be among Maryland Democrats: Dennis Whitley III (who gets his name on the case), Matthew Thomas, Anne Neal, and Karren Jo Pope-Onwukwe.
Basically, the referendum’s opponents wanted the court to throw out some of the petitions that had been signed to bring this issue to the voters.
This case emerged due to advancements in information technology, specifically in Maryland’s growing use of voter petitions to place questions on the ballot and now the Maryland high court has to figure out how to deal with it.
What This Is About?
Following the passage of Maryland’s latest congressional redistricting law (SB 1), MDPetitions.com used a website-based initiative to collect the necessary signatures for a referendum on the general election ballot in November 2012. The site’s software allowed users to electronically generate a petition signature page by entering their identifying information, printing the page, signing it, completing the required petition circulator’s affidavit, and submitting it in support of the referendum.
The Maryland State Board of Elections certified the petition for a referendum, but a group of petitioners challenged the certification, arguing that an insufficient number of valid signatures were submitted. They objected to two types of signatures: those obtained through MDPetitions.com and those where the voter signed twice (once as the signer supporting the petition and again as the circulator attesting to the signature’s validity).
The Circuit Court upheld the State Board’s actions, finding that the relevant constitutional and statutory provisions did not support the petitioners’ arguments. The Court of Appeals of Maryland was asked to consider whether signatures obtained through a third-party website violated the statutory requirement of including or providing identifying information and whether an individual could “self-circulate” a petition by signing as both the voter and the circulator. On August 17, 2012, the Court of Appeals issued an order affirming the Circuit Court’s judgment, with an explanation of the reasons for the order to follow.
I have no real opinion on redistricting except to say it is one of those issues that probably should be voted on by the people. I also think that, generally, Democrats should be in favor of giving the people a chance to be heard. I’m sure these plaintiffs would agree.. unless it is something they want off the ballot in which case the people should put a sock in it.
You can find the opinion here.