Maryland voters may be allowed to pass judgment on the state's new congressional districts in November. A group opposed to the new legislative map said Monday that they collected enough voter signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.
Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington County, who led a petition drive to get the map on the ballot, says opponents have submitted 65,722 signatures to the secretary of state's office for validation. The need 55,736 valid signatures to make the ballot.
Critics claim the new congressional map was drawn specifically to dilute the political power of Republicans in western Maryland to help elect certain Democrats.
Maryland law gives voters referendum power over laws passed by the General Assembly except for liquor laws and measures that involve state appropriations.
"It's time to let the people vote," Parrott said. "This map here in Maryland is really an insult to Maryland voters. It divides our communities all across the state."
Maryland Democrats called the petition drive a power grab and chided Republicans for not collecting more signatures than they did.
"Voters will see the GOP's referendum effort as a desperate partisan power grab designed to overturn a redistricting plan that reflects Maryland's diversity, creates more competitive districts and was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court," said Maryland Democratic Party Executive Director David Sloan.
The Supreme Court recently agreed with lower courts that the new map does not discriminate against black voters.
"This November, we are confident that Maryland voters will once again resoundingly reject Maryland's dead-end Republicans, and will choose to move forward with President Obama and Democrats," Sloan added.
The redistricting map is one of three legislative measures Republicans sought to reverse at the polls this year. They also targeted the Democratic legislature's legalization of same-sex marriage and the Maryland Dream Act, which would give in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants at community colleges.
"We in Maryland have had an arrogant [Democratic] majority that has operated with utter impunity in our legislature and without any consequences," said Del. Steve Schuh, R-Anne Arundel County. "That has changed. Now, when they enact legislation in advance of their liberal agenda that is inconsistent with a belief of the majority of Marylanders, rest assured that signatures will be gathered and those acts of the legislature will be on the ballot for the people to decide."