The leader of a group opposed to term limits in Montgomery County asked a circuit court Friday to block placement of the issue on the November ballot, charging that many of the signatures submitted in support of the measure are invalid.
Republican activist Robin Ficker spearheaded a drive to collect an estimated 17,649 signatures of registered voters for a ballot question asking whether county council members and the county executive should be limited to three consecutive terms. If passed, “Proposition B” would bar five of the nine council members from seeking reelection.
Last week, the Montgomery Board of Elections certified that Ficker had the minimum 12,573 valid signatures, more than the required 10,000.
The lawsuit, filed against the county and the Maryland State Board of Elections by former Rockville city council member Tom Moore, chair of “No on B,” said a spot check of Ficker’s petitions showed dozens of problems, including instances where names were just printed, not signed. The complaint also said the dates on many signatures seem to have been filled out by the same hand, a violation of the law.
“The people of Montgomery County have the right to see that the laws concerning petitions are followed,” Moore, a Democrat, said in a statement Friday morning, “just as they have the right to vote for candidates they feel are best equipped to represent them, no matter how many times those candidates have been elected before.”
Kevin Karpinski, attorney for the Montgomery Board of Elections, did not return a phone message Friday afternoon.
Ficker said Friday he was confident that Moore’s suit will be thrown out, citing a legal ruling that ended his 2010 attempt to place term limits on the county ballot. A Montgomery Circuit Court judge dismissed his lawsuit challenging the Board of Election’s rejection of his signature petitions.
Judge Robert A. Greenberg said Ficker’s campaign organization, the Citizens Charter Committee, did not meet the legal standard requiring that the plaintiff be more aggrieved than the average taxpayer or voter.
“I don’t see how Tom Moore is more aggrieved by this than the average voter,” Ficker said.
A hearing is expected to be held next week.