Maryland congressional map petition drive may fail, organizer says


After successfully gathering enough signatures to put Maryland’s Dream Act before voters, and partnering with anti-gay-marriage groups to put that issue on a glide path to referendum, MDPetitions.com founder Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington) warned supporters Friday that the group is in danger of failing to meet next week’s deadline to produce over 18,000 signatures for the redistricting ballot measure.

“We don’t yet have the signatures we need in hand,” Parrott wrote in an e-mail titled “Saturday’s mail?” The solicitation asked supporters to sign and print an online petition and mail the signature card by Saturday to help ensure the group can meet its goal.

Under Maryland’s election law, a third of the 55,736 signatures needed to petition a measure to the ballot must be turned in by midnight on May 31. With thousands of signatures routinely rejected on technical grounds, MDPetitions likely needs to turn in more than 24,000 signatures to feel confident that enough signatures will be counted as valid.

“If we can get the map in front of voters, they are willing to sign the petition – it becomes very popular to sign once they see it,” Parrott said in an interview. “The problem is, the energy behind it isn’t as great as that behind [stopping] gay marriage or illegal immigrants” from getting in-state tuition breaks, he said.

Parrott’s e-mail said the group has about 50 volunteers going to parades, baseball games, and other events across the state to gather signatures this weekend.

Parrott said that unlike the Maryland Marriage Alliance, which plans to announce on Tuesday how many signatures it has collected, MDPetitions.com likely won’t turn in its tally until the final hours before Thursday night’s deadline.

“We’re going to have an all-out effort in the last six days,” Parrott said. ”I believe we can meet the target.”


File photo: Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) pleaded with state lawmakers to reject a new congressional map by Gov. Martin O'Malley's redistricting commission. Edwards called the map "deeply flawed," alleging it will dilute the voting power of minorities in Montgomery County. (Aaron C. Davis/WASHINGTON POST)

The map lumped some 120,000 minority voters in Montgomery County into a mostly white district in Western Maryland in an attempt to unseat Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, the state’s senior Republican lawmaker.

A three-judge panel reviewed the map and questioned the role of politics in slicing up existing districts, but concluded it was legal.

Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.
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