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Michael Swartz / Jun. 30, 2011

How the Democrats Try and Disenfranchise Voters

Here’s more proof the left isn’t interested in your opinion unless they give it to you.

A couple weeks back on another website I detailed how conservatives in Maryland could score a rare victory based on the response to an ill-advised bill passed by our General Assembly. Having turned in over 60,000 signatures by a first-post May 31 deadline, supporters of a drive to place a recently-passed bill on the ballot for referendum in November 2012 were pleased that over 47,000 of the required names were ruled valid, leaving only about 8,000 remaining to be collected by June 30. In all, backers were hoping 100,000 people would sign their petition.

Their success frightened supporters of the so-called Maryland DREAM Act so much they resorted to a multi-pronged attack on those who oppose the bill. Would-be petition signers were being harassed upon attempting to sign the document in a public place and handed ‘Think Before You Ink’ flyers containing misleading information. There’s even a website with sob stories about immigrant children who would be affected called One Maryland Defense, which calls the petition an “effort…to eliminate access to universities for talented Maryland students” by “a small minority of extremists.” It featured an attempt to entice people to remove their names from the petition.

Yet the potential is there for more mischief. Last week it was revealed the pro-illegal group CASA de Maryland had asked the state Board of Elections for permission to copy the original petitions for their usage in trying to thwart the effort. Later, copies were made available to the petition organizers as well, and they’re using the information on those signatures originally rejected to try and get corrections made before the June 30 deadline.

But having the petition information in the hands of an illegal immigration advocacy group raises the question of what they’ll use the data for. As we saw in the aftermath of California’s Proposition 8 vote, those who supported marriage between a man and woman were harassed for their beliefs by the militant gay lobby. Could it be possible the same fate awaits petition signers, particularly in enclaves with a heavy immigrant population?

While a Baltimore Sun editorial pooh-poohs the prospect, the stigma of being publicly labeled “racist” by signing the petition may have dampened the enthusiasm for last-minute signers. Having the names revealed prior to the close of the process isn’t against the law, but the state had the right to delay releasing the data under public information laws. The timing was even more curious when one considers the act of verifying signatures was closed to the public.

The ace in the hole for the ACLU and CASA de Maryland, though, may be in an upcoming ruling by the state’s Attorney General, Doug Gansler – unfortunately for the side of right, he’s an extreme liberal who, for example, has declined to enforce the state’s existing same-sex marriage law. (Not only did the threatened impeachment not come to pass, no Republican stepped forward to run against him last year.)

At issue is the method used for signature collection. The mdpetitions.com website has a feature where one can download a prefilled petition form for any address in the state – all a voter has to do at that point is sign their name in the same manner it appears on the voting list. This eliminates the potential for a common error, where a voter omits their middle name on their signature or otherwise fills out the petition form incorrectly.

Obviously a large percentage of petitions have been returned on this prefilled form, with the signatures and circulator information being the only portions filled out manually. But pro-illegal groups contend that these petitions should be ruled invalid, which could leave the drive short of the signatures needed because around one-third of those collected have come from these prefilled forms.

There is one point which petition opponents may not have taken into account, though. When Maryland voters arrive at a polling site to vote they’re not asked for identification of any sort except for a verbal confirmation of their name, address, and date of birth. They then sign a form, created in advance by the Board of Elections with their registration information, and proceed to cast their ballot. So there is precedent for and widespread usage of a prefilled form at the ballot box – why not for a petition?

It’s amazing the contortions a group of liberals will make to disenfranchise voters when they want to, isn’t it?

Yet despite the Left’s best efforts at shaming, cajoling, and harassing would-be petition signers, there will be enough signatures gathered around Maryland to place this issue on the November 2012 ballot. So the last resort for stopping this effort to overturn an ill-considered piece of legislation – which in truth will indeed deny qualified Maryland students a place in state community colleges (but only if they’re American citizens) – will probably be the courts.

Despite the best efforts of thousands of Maryland citizens to place a check and balance on their state government, the forces of political correctness and a government only concerned with supplying an ever-expanding roster of goodies to those it deems deserving may prevail in the end. It would be a shame to see yet another attempt at sanity in what is now far from a Free State squelched by the liberals in charge.

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