Maryland Court of Appeals approves two ballot measures

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Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

Maryland voters will be able to decide in November whether the state's new congressional districts get to stay, after the state's highest court ruled in favor of the referendum Friday morning.

Opponents of the new map argue that the districts were gerrymandered to help get more Democrats elected to Congress. "I call this map the Incumbent Protection Act," said state Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington County, who led the referendum effort.

Likewise, Montgomery County voters will be able to decide whether the county's police union can restore its "effects bargaining" right, an ability county lawmakers revoked last summer after it allowed the Fraternal Order of Police to bargain almost any management decision, such as requiring police officers to check their email.

In arguments Thursday afternoon, opponents of both ballot initiatives warned that the process of collecting voters' signatures could have been defrauded.

For example, the Maryland Democratic Party challenged the fact that 7,578 signatures opposing Maryland's new congressional districts were collected using a computer program on MDPetitions.com. The program made it easy to sign someone else's name without their knowledge, attorneys argued.

Montgomery County, meanwhile, argued that because the ZIP codes listed on the petition pages by the people collecting signatures were incorrect, the signatures on those pages were invalid. The ZIP codes appeared in affidavits certifying that the signatures were collected legally. Without correct information, the affidavits are invalid, attorneys said.

The court disagreed with both arguments, upholding the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court's decision to keep the signatures in the redistricting case and reversing the Montgomery County Circuit Court's decision that tossed out the signatures in the other.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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Rachel Baye

Staff Writer - Education
The Washington Examiner