ANNAPOLIS, Md.—“That’s not just part of the democratic process,” Parrott said.
Parrott said he likely would introduce another bill that would seek to make the language on the ballot similar to the language on the petitions that a voter might have signed.
“Otherwise, people might not know what they are voting for,” Parrott said.
Referendum law review
There are indications in Annapolis that the state’s top Democrats are mulling an effort to change the petitions process, thus making it more difficult for an issue to get on the ballot.
Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman in O’Malley’s office, said in an email that nothing concrete has been decided at this point, but the issue was being discussed.
O’Malley said after the November election that it was too easy in the state for a law to be challenged through a referendum, according to reports.
Michael Busch, speaker of the House of Delegates and a Democrat, said Thursday that the state is likely to review the law relating to the referendum process.
“We do that with all our laws,” Busch said, adding that the Internet adds an option for petitioners to gather signatures. “Now, you can do it online and it makes it a lot easier. I mean, there ought to be a threshold that is meaningful for a ... referendum.”
Busch said when voters sign their names, they are willing to have it verified.
“You put your name on the line,” he said.
But Busch said there was no justification for anyone being suspended or fired from a job just because they have signed a petition.
State Sen. Ronald N. Young, D-Frederick/Washington, said the referendum process should be made more difficult.
“It is just too easy ... just raise the number (of petitions required for an issue to be on the ballot)” Young said.
About 55,800 signatures are needed for a referendum.
On the Internet, Young said, one can almost bring to the ballot any issue that has ever been voted on. And every time that happens, it costs time and money.
“If everything is going to be up to a vote, we don’t even need a government, we can just hire a polling firm,” Young said.
But Parrott said collecting petition signatures was an “excruciatingly difficult process,” noting that a majority of signed petitions were not obtained online.
The arduous process was one reason that last year was the first time in 20 years that Maryland laws were petitioned to be on the ballot, he said.