Perot's petitions ready


ANNAPOLIS -- Ross Perot, the undeclared candidate for president, will be here tomorrow for the ceremonial presentation of more than 140,000 signatures obtained from Marylanders who want him on the ballot this November.

In fact, the Perot petitions were delivered to county election boards around the state yesterday. Each signature must be verified as belonging to a registered voter -- and the voter rolls are kept by local boards.

Nevertheless, the candidate and a flotilla of 24 boats will cruise into the Annapolis City Dock about noon carrying facsimiles of the petitions. The boats represent Baltimore and the state's 23 counties.

In a news release describing the flotilla, the Perot campaign in Dallas referred to Baltimore as the capital of Maryland.

"They did it again?" asked Carol Feldman, a press aide in the Perot petition campaign's Annapolis office. "We had this conversation before. Once they even went to the trouble of inserting the mistake. We called them and they apologized. I guess we could needle them and say Ross is from Dallas, the capital of Texas."

The Texas billionaire, who needs 63,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot in Maryland, will speak to supporters at the dock. The petition deadline is Aug. 3.

Under state law, an independent candidate such as Mr. Perot can get on the ballot if he obtains valid signatures from 3 percent of voters eligible to vote in a given election -- in this case all 2,105,630 of Maryland's currently registered voters -- Democrat, Republican, Libertarian and Independent.

The eager and well-organized Perot forces have gathered well over twice as many signatures as they need and did so much earlier than required.

The signatures must be certified as belonging to persons actually registered to vote in Maryland. A state election official said local election board officials have been told to verify each signature will be verified if it does not appear to have been tampered with.

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