Rep. John B. Anderson's belated effort to have his name listed on Maryland's November ballot today was bolstered when his supporters presented election officials with petitions bearing nearly twice the required number of signatures.
For Maryland residents to have a chance to vote for him in the fall, however, Anderson still must win a court challenge of the state's March 3 filing deadline, which was about eight weeks before he decided to run for president as an independent candidate.
In presenting local election officials with petitions bearing 88,887 signatures, Anderson supporters expressed confidence that they would win the court fight to have their candidate's name placed on the ballot. Maryland, with 10 electoral votes, is the 16th state in which he has filed the required number of signatures.
Willard Morris, the state elections board chief announced when the petitions were filed that he will allow the 24 local election offices to examine and validate the signatures, instead of merely holding them for safekeeping until the legality for Anderson's Maryland candidacy is resolved. s
In Virginia, the Anderson campaign faces a more perplexing legal issue centering not on Anderson, but on his unnamed running mate.
Virginia supporters of the independent candidate expect little difficulty in obtaining the required 10,003 signatures by that state's Sep. 5 deadline. For the purpose of gathering those signatures, they have listed former Johns Hopkins President Milton S. Eisenhower as Anderson's running mate.
But state election officials are not at all sure that when Anderson actually names his running mate, he will be able to remove this surrogate name from the ballot and insert the name of his actual vice presidential candidate.
The state's three-member board of electons yesterday sent a letter to state Attorney General J. Marshall Coleman asking if Virginia law would permit such a substitution when such a substitution could be made.
In the District of Columbia, such substitutions are provided for, according to Anderson campaign coodinator Howard Gillette. The drive to collect the required 2,500 signatures by Aug. 19 began this weekend. To date about 2,100 signatures have been collected, Gillette said.
Campaign workers in all three juirisdictions are collecting many more than the required number of signatures to allow a comfortable margin of error if elections officials find duplications, signatures of unregistered voters, or other problems that would invalidate names.
Four weeks ago, the Maryland elections board instructed local officials to accept the petitions when they arrived and to count the signatures, but then to hold them for safekeeping, making no attempt to validate their authenticity.
Today the board softened that position, telephoning the 24 elections boards around the state to say that, unless otherwise notified, officials should start validating the signatures and certifying the petitions by noon tomorrow. By that time, representatives of Anderson and his vice presidential surrogate, Columbia resident Robert L. Flanagan, will have filed the necessary certificates of candidacy, along with $580.
With the certificates filed and the signatures validated, there will be no need for delay in putting Anderson on the ballot if his challenge to the Maryland law is successful.
Bert Booth, the Baltimore County state delegate heading Anderson's Maryland effort, said campaign workers plan to file an additional 5,000 to 6,000 signatures before the end of the month, to provide additional insurance that the required number of valid signatures.
In Virginia, Anderson press spokesman Jeffrey Rothman said the signature drive was "on schedule" thus far. There, workers began circulating petitions June 28.