A group led by a Republican delegate in Maryland said Monday that it has collected enough signatures to force a statewide vote in November on the state’s new congressional map.
“The map simply doesn’t make sense,” said Del. Neil C. Parrott (R-Washington), chairman of MDPetitions.com, which contends Democrats contorted the map to expand the party’s representation.
Whether voters get a say on the matter remains to be seen.
Parrott said the group had turned in 65,722 signatures in two batches, the most recent of which was submitted Saturday night. Getting a measure on the ballot requires 55,736 signatures, but election officials typically invalidate a significant percentage of those submitted.
Parrott and other GOP delegates who appeared at a news conference outside the State House characterized their effort as bipartisan — but it drew harsh criticism from the Maryland Democratic Party.
“Voters will see the GOP’s referendum effort as a desperate partisan power-grab designed to overturn a redistricting plan that reflects Maryland’s diversity, creates more competitive districts and was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court,” said David Sloan, the party’s executive director.
He said Democrats would “weigh all options to protect the integrity of the referendum process and ensure that every petition was completed and collected in line with Maryland laws and regulations.”
The new map was submitted by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and approved by the legislature in a special session last fall. If voters were to reject the map, the process would start over again.
If Parrott’s group succeeds in gathering sufficient signatures, the congressional map will be the third measure passed by the General Assembly that is being placed on the ballot this fall.
Already, voters are being given a chance to undo Maryland’s same-sex marriage law and another that would grant in-state college tuition rates to illegal immigrants under some circumstances. MDPetitions.com played a key role in both of those efforts as well.
Steven R. Schuh (R-Anne Arundel) said the recent successes with the petition process had given citizens a way to stand up to “an arrogant majority” in Annapolis.
“This is a major change of our democracy in Maryland,” he said.
Schuh and other Republicans complained of their counties being broken into multiple congressional districts in what they said was a power play by Democrats.
“The citizens of Maryland deserve better than this crazy map,” said Del. Glen Glass (R-Harford). “We need to get it right.”