Referendum on referendums still on hold

Danny Jacobs, The Daily Record

(The following is excerpted from The Daily Record's article. To access the full article on The Daily Record's website, follow the link in the above by-line.)


The legal issues surrounding voter referendums are as nuanced as the signatures that often come under scrutiny during court battles over the petitions.

John Henry Smith, for example, can sign and print his name on a petition and it would be counted. But if he were to sign “Jack Smith” and print “J. H. Smith,” the signature wouldn’t be permitted.

It’s why Del. Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County, wants to make easier the signature requirement for referendum, despite the objections of Democratic leadership in the General Assembly.

“Predictability is important in this process for petitioners and government,” Cardin said during the Administrative Law Section’s panel discussion at the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Ocean City. “If you create a system that creates certainty, we are doing the right thing in terms of public policy no matter your politics.”

Cardin, who chairs an election law subcommittee in the House of Delegates, said legislation to reform the petition process was not passed in the General Assembly this year because of the “volatile nature” of the session (including the gun control and death penalty bills) and because Democratic leaders felt it would be too partisan to pass such legislation so close to next year’s election.