Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Maryland Tuition Petition Garners Bipartisan Support

from the Baltimore Sun
Nearly one out of every three people who signed a petition opposing the Maryland Dream Act are registered Democrats, according to data from the state board of elections.

The information backs up contentions by GOP Del. Neil Parrott and others that the Republican-led effort to repeal the law has bipartisan support. The state board of elections on Friday said that enough valid signatures were collected to trigger a referendum on the law in 2012.

The party identification data tracks with figures from an initial batch of petitions due at the end of May. The opponents of the new law turned in a total of 108,923 valid signatures. Just over 32,000 came from Democrats.

The law would allow illegal immigrants access to the same discounted in-state tuition at Maryland's colleges and universities that legal residents pay. Undocumented students would have to prove their parents filed tax returns and show that they'd attend a Maryland high school for three years. It was supposed to be enacted in July, but has been suspended because of the referendum.

There's been no polling (that I'm aware of) on the in-state tuition law. But, if the voter registration trends from the petition hold, the law could be in trouble. Should the GOP vote en mass against the bill and pick up one third of the state's Democrats, the law would theoretically lose by about 140,000 votes. (Of course, that assumes perfect turnout. Email me if you are dying to see the math.)

It was also noteworthy that Democrats were slightly less likely to go a sophisticated new website that Parrott created to generate petitions. The website caught the attention of the Maryland ACLU, which raised questions about whether the method would pass constitutional muster.

According to the state board, one in four internet generated petitions came from Democrats. Sixty percent were Republicans. He is saving his list of names and re-purpose the site for other repeal efforts.

Parrott's website can be credited with collecting one third of the valid signatures for the effort. It's a big number, but as it turns out so many people signed the petition that opponents would have been successful even without it.

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