Maryland officials have ruled that opponents of a state law that gives illegal immigrants in-state college tuition discounts have gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot and let voters decide. The decision marks the first time in 20 years that a petition drive forced a vote on a Maryland law, The Washington Post reports.
“This is a great benefit to every citizen of the state,” GOP Del. Neil C. Parrott, the leader of the petition drive, said.
“The liberal leadership of the General Assembly rammed this through, even with 20 Democrats voting against it. It’s taken the hard work of volunteers across the state to make sure voters will have the final say,” Parrott added.
Conservatives developed an online tool to gather signatures designed to avoid errors that can void signatures. The tool printed a voter’s name and information as it is listed in registration records, allowing a person to print the information out, sign it and mail it to the petition campaign. The method may find other uses.
“This issue of illegal immigration tapped into a zeitgeist. With the economy, it was ripe to be the first referendum to succeed in 20 years,” Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College, told the Post.
“But the way it was done, this will have a major impact, too. Maryland Republicans can now use this as an alternative means to have influence . . . and as a result, same-sex marriage is likely dead in the General Assembly for the near future.”
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