Rejected as official, third parties sue

Maryland's Greens and Libertarians are no longer official political parties, according to the State Board of Elections. They failed to win enough votes in the fall election and, the board says, weren't able to collect enough signatures to petition to remain on the ballot.

But the parties aren't over. The Libertarians filed a lawsuit Monday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court claiming they did, in fact, submit enough signatures. The Greens said Thursday that they have joined that suit, which names Elections Administrator Linda Lamone as a defendant.

Here's the lawsuit, provided by the Green Party.

The parties were hopeful after a recent Maryland Court of Appeals decision allowed illegible signatures on petitions. But, as recent Green Party gubernatorial candidate Maria Allwine acknowledged at the time, "the bigger problem is the insistence that the name be exactly as it looks on the person's voter registration."

Maryland allows two ways for a third party to be deemed "official," which gives them the all-important ballot line. They must either win 1 percent or more of the vote in a gubernatorial election or collect 10,000 or more signatures on a petition.

In a release, the Green Party said it submitted 14,886 signatures but was told by the Board of Elections that there weren't enough valid ones.

The Greens say the board broke down the signature count this way:

* 5,905 were deemed valid.

* Of those, 1,977 of these signatures had been initially rejected because of issues with the legibility or readability of the signers' signature, but were reconsidered after the Court of Appeals released its recent opinion.

* 2,164 were rejected for various technical reasons.

*6,817 signatures were rejected because of differences between a signer's registration record and name printed on the petition.

Results were similar for the Libertarians: Of 14,994 signatures, only 3,815 were initially accepted, and the recent court ruling meant another 2,417 could count, according to the lawsuit.

The Greens, like many groups that collect signatures for ballot petitions, say Maryland's rule that the signer's name must match a fairly exact version of his or her voter registration record, is "excessively strict."

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