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Illegal immigrant tuition referendum certified for 2012 ballot

The State Board of Elections notified petitioners Friday that they have succeeded in their effort to have Maryland voters weigh in on a new law enabling illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

But advocates of the tuition bill have until Aug. 1 to file a lawsuit challenging the referendum.

Elections officials have been counting and validated signatures over the past few weeks. In all, the board accepted 108,923 signatures, nearly double the approximately 55,000 needed to secure the referendum a spot on the November 2012 ballot.

"Today the voters of Maryland have achieved a huge victory," Del. Neil Parrott said in a statement. The Washington County Republican led the petition effort.

"When we started this petition drive, we knew that Maryland voters wanted more financial responsibility in Annapolis and wanted the enforcement of our immigration laws, not ways to skirt around the law. Today marks the beginning of the end for an illegal alien benefits bill that simply does not make sense."

Kim Propeack of immigrant advocacy group Casa de Maryland said Casa and other groups are considering a lawsuit.

"We don't agree with the State Board of Elections on a lot of their decisions," she said.

Specifically, Casa and the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union believe it is illegal for petitioners to have used a website that links with the state voter registration database to fill in names — citing the potential for fraud.

Also, Casa officials believe the board should not have accepted petitions that were stapled to the full text of the law; the board required petitioners to sign a form with the law printed on the back.

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