By Julie Bykowicz, The Baltimore Sun
The petition drive to give voters a chance to reject in-state tuition breaks for illegal immigrants is fewer than 8,500 signatures shy of succeeding, the Maryland State Board of Elections reported Wednesday.
Elections officials said they had certified 47,288 names from the first batch of signatures, which were submitted at the end of May. Petition organizers must reach 55,736 valid signatures â€” a number equal to 3 percent of the voters in last year’s gubernatorial election â€” to get the controversial law onto the 2012 ballot.
They plan to turn in tens of thousands of new signatures by the June 30 deadline.
“Marylanders understand what’s in this bill, and that’s why so many people want to be part of what we are doing,” Del. Neil Parrott, the Washington County Republican who launched the drive, said this week
The first batch of signatures included 17,092 gathered through a website set up by the petition organizers, according to Donna Duncan, an elections board official. The Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and immigrant advocacy group Casa de Maryland have said they plan to sue over those submissions, alleging the website â€” mdpetitions.com â€” is susceptible to fraud.
Another 30,196 signatures were gathered by volunteers who have been hitting the streets, knocking on doors and approaching residents.
The board rejected 10,217 signatures that belonged to people who are not registered voters or failed to meet the state’s stringent requirements for petitions.
A ruling this week on another petition effort could have an impact on those rules.
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