Marc Norman and his Citizens for Open Government group were dealt yet another legal defeat their effort to stop Harris Teeter from opening a store in Turf Valley. After considering their argument for almost six months, this past Monday Judge Timothy J. McCrone ruled that the Howard County Board of Elections acted “in accordance with the law” when they retroactively disqualified over 80% of the signatures collected in his petition drive to subject the Turf Valley zoning amendment to countywide referendum. According to this article by Sara Breitenbach in The Howard County Times, “McCrone ruled the elections board properly applied Maryland standards, set forth by the state’s high court, in reviewing and rejecting a citizen referendum petition.”
“The Court of Appeals left no doubt but that ‘the provisions are mandatory, not suggestive,’ ” McCrone wrote. “The required standard is designed to ‘provide additional means by which fraudulent or otherwise improper signatures upon a referendum petition may be detected.’ ”
I can’t say that I am disappointed with this decision. COG’s petition effort had a bad smell to it. The majority of the approximately 9,000 signatures submitted to the BOE were gathered by food worker union employees who parachuted into HoCo from as far away as Delaware in order to stop the non union grocer from expanding into their turf.
Predictably, Marc Norman is full of righteous indignation.
“We don’t know if we’re going to be able to get justice in the state of Maryland,” Norman said.
“It’s extremely frustrating. “Maryland is the only state in the Union that has this triple-match qualification. We believe it’s an undue burden on a citizen’s right to vote.”
The judge didn’t think so.
“In his written opinion, McCrone said the citizen’s group “failed to demonstrate a violation of the right to vote.”
I still rather doubt that we’ve heard the end of this.
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