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Petition Effort Moves Online

County-focused website modeled after effort that placed law granting tuition to some illegal immigrants to the 2012 ballot.

A grassroots effort seeking to change the County Charter has gone high tech.

Ann Miller, a Phoenix resident and Republican activist, has founded BaltoCoPetitions.com, a website focused on petition drives in the county—primarily collecting at least 10,000 signatures to change the county's referendum law.

Miller and Al Nalley, a Catonsville resident, started earlier this year with a grassroots effort to force the county's recently-passed transgender anti-discrimination law to the ballot this year.

Nalley referred questions to Miller, who was not immediately available for comment.

Miller wants to lower the bar for signatures needed to place a county law on the ballot. Currently, the County Charter requires 10 percent of the total number of county voters who cast votes for governor in the most recent election—nearly 29,000 based on the 2010 election. Those signatures must be collected in 45 days.

The current county standard is setting the percentage for counties.

Miller wants to to change the County Charter to make it match the 3 percent of signatures required to place a state law on the ballot.

The effort failed but the pair has re-grouped to create a website modeled after MDPetitions.com, a site created by Del. Neil Parrott. The site is credited with pushing a 2011 state law granting tuition to some illegal immigrants to the ballot in November. The group is also using the site to collect signatures for referendums on the congressional redistricting plan and the same-sex marriage law passed by the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year.

The state site was seen as ground breaking because it used state voter registration databases to assist signers in signing the petition exactly as they signed their names on their voter registration forms.

Non-matching signatures is a major factor in state elections officials disallowing petition signatures. Before MDPetitions.com, nearly one of every two signatures was rejected. Last year, the group saw their signatures validated at a rate of about 80 percent.

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Paul Amirault April 23, 2012 at 07:16 PM
I'll agree to a paltry 3% when it takes 60% for the referendum to pass.

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