Local elections boards have now counted 21,919 valid signatures on the petition drive to overturn the law granting resident tuition to illegal immigrants, 3,000 more than needed to meet the first goal, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections website Tuesday.
“It’s really encouraging to see that the counties and Baltimore City are jumping right on this,” said Del. Neil Parrott, the Washington County Republican leading the petition drive effort.
Mary Wagner, head of the voter registration division at the state board, said Anne Arundel and other counties that had not reported any results as of Monday were doing pre-processing and training. Under the law, the local boards have until June 20 to process the petitions and validate the returns.
The opponents of the new law had to have 18,577 valid signatures by May 31, and a total of 55,736 by June 30.
All told, the petitioners submitted 58,596 signatures last Tuesday evening, and the 85 percent validation rate “was about what we expected it to be,” Parrott said. The number of signatures thrown out by local boards is often much higher, but the process has been aided by the number of people using online petition forms that fill in their voter registration data and by close review of the petitions before they were submitted to the secretary of state.
Parrott said they expected to have 40,000 to 45,000 valid signatures after this round of counting, and “people are still going to the website.”
“Everybody knows this is a sprint now to the end of June,” Parrott said. The goal is to get far more valid signatures than required by state law – 3 percent of the number of registered voters who voted for governor in the last election.
“We know there are going to be lawsuits” by the groups that support the law, he said, “and they’re going to throw out as many signatures as they can.”