Summer Sale! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Readers Respond
News Opinion Readers Respond

Make the petition process easier, not harder

Your report on moves to change state referendum procedures repeatedly refers to "electronic signatures" ("Petition process under scrutiny," Jan. 9). That is a misnomer.

It would be nice if in the 21st century we were allowed to petition our government in a modern way. But in fact the voter must sign a physical piece of paper with a pen. The only part of the process that can be interpreted as "electronic" is that the petition form itself is created individually, with the name and address fields filled in with information extracted from the state's voter registration database.

That procedure did not evolve in a vacuum. It was created because the state was invalidating an exorbitant number of signatures for minor reasons — such as leaving out a middle initial — when previously such restrictions had not been applied.

It is difficult to walk up to a voter on the street who can recall information precisely as is recorded in the state's files. Personalizing a petition form merely improves accuracy and assists in the state's onerous validation process.

The brouhaha over the governor and others' rebellion against citizen's having the effrontery to challenge new laws results from its application to the referendum process. Lost in the dust is the fact that third parties must come up with 10,000 petition signatures merely to be recognized by the state — and the same stringent rules are applied to these petitions, too. (The 10,000 signatures are required despite the fact that a third party may have more than that number of registered members.)

In the case Libertarian Party of Maryland and Maryland Green Party v. Maryland State Board of Elections, a state circuit court judge ruled that the signature requirements were in fact overly restrictive. He was using common sense, but the Maryland Court of Appeals overruled him in a unanimous decision that was clearly politically driven.

Electronically generated petitions are merely a consequence of how difficult it is to meet the state-mandated requirements. What is really needed is a revision of the petition laws in a way that enhances, rather than diminishes, the rights of Maryland citizens.

Robert E. Glaser, Owings Mills

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Libertarian Party.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Grieving the victims of Baltimore's deadliest month

    Grieving the victims of Baltimore's deadliest month

    Your report "45 murders in 31 days: Looking back at Baltimore's deadliest month" (Aug. 29) may be the most important news article since Freddie Gray's death.

  • Baltimore's bane: Drugs and single-parent households

    Baltimore's bane: Drugs and single-parent households

    It was with deep regret and sadness that I looked closely at the pictures of each of my 45 fellow Baltimore residents murdered in July ("45 murders in 31 days: Looking back at Baltimore's deadliest month," Aug. 29).

  • Windjammer sets tone for helping others

    Windjammer sets tone for helping others

    I was fortunate enough to attend Windjammer, and the article in The Sun does a fantastic job of describing the raw emotions and sentiment projected by all of those who played ("Windjammer festival marks a beautiful moment in Baltimore music," Aug. 30). I think Sam Herring put it very succinctly...

  • Why are so many homicide victims black?

    Why are so many homicide victims black?

    I am shocked by your recent report that virtually all Baltimore City homicide victims are minorities ("45 murders in 31 days: Looking back at Baltimore's deadliest month," Aug. 29).

  • Renaming peak a wrong priority

    Renaming peak a wrong priority

    As usual and with his myopic view of issues, President Barack Obama chose to direct his foolishness to renaming Mount McKinley rather than the importance of energy issues in the United States ("Alaska-bound, Obama renames America's tallest peak," Aug. 31).

  • Make parties pay for closed primaries

    Make parties pay for closed primaries

    The Democratic and Republican parties don't want open primaries ("Open the primaries," Aug. 31)? Fine, I'm good with that. After all, the purpose of primaries is for members of a party to select the candidates from their parties for the next election.

Comments
Loading
84°