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Maryland Bill to Require Circulators to See ID for Each Signer

Published on February 17, 2009, by in General.

Maryland Senator Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) has introduced SB 445. It would require all petition circulators to look at a “current and valid photo ID that includes Date of Birth” for any potential signer, before letting that person sign the petition. It also requires the signers to show their ID to the circulator.

The bill has a hearing on February 26, Thursday, at 1 p.m., in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

People who have petitioned know that speed is essential. Requiring every potential signer to first show an ID would slow down the process, and also would make it impossible for some people to sign the petition, since not everyone always has ID handy. For example, people lying on a beach frequently have their wallets and purses locked away somewhere.

3 Responses

  1. Alvin

    If petitioners need to verify that signers are registered to vote then why does the election officials also have to verify them. And if the election officials are not going to take the petitioners word but verify anyways, why ask petitioners to verify?

  2. Andy

    This proposed legislation is one of the stupidist things that I’ve ever heard.

  3. When you present yourself at the polls to vote in Maryland, the check-in judges are required to ask “What is your name?” “What is your address?” and “What is your date of birth?” If your answers match up with the info about a registered voter, and if no judge challenges, you get to vote. The check-in judges are expressly prohibited from asking for ID. The chief judge can ask for ID in the event of a challenge, although the voter need not show ID even then.

    So in this sense, the proposed change would embrace an idea for petition-signing which the legislature has found onerous for voting — the requiring of ID for participation.

    There is one thing I like about the proposed legislation. Current petition-signers are required to enter their date of birth right there on the form. This is a legitimate privacy concern. I’ve found that most folks who pause at the prospect of providing such info generally go ahead and do so anyway. When I see a person pause at that point, I say “The state requires the date of birth. Sorry.”

    The date of birth entry can occasionally get used to count a signature when it otherwise might be disallowed due to address change, so that advantageous use would be lost if date of birth info isn’t included on the signature sheet.

    This bill will make it harder for voters to petition their government, harder for honest circulators to meet their goal, and easier for dishonest circulators to submit multitudes of false signatures.

    Steve Schulin, Maryland Independent Party

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