By Delegate Smigiel
When I called the State Election Board last week it was to inquire about the allegations that they were going to give the illegal immigration advocate group, CASA, the original petitions to take with them to copy at a local copy center. (see previous blog post).
Little did I know what was to come of that inquiry. The election board personnel gave me the numbers of how many petitions names had been approved, as handwritten and how many were done on computers they also told me how many had been rejected and how gave me a brief explanation of the various reasons for rejecting signatures.I asked if I could get some information sent to me to explain that process, (thinking that when we ask for the copies of the petitions I would be able to translate what the notations in the margins of the petitions mean and why any particular signature had been rejected) I was told I would be sent a disk.
Imagine my surprise, Saturday evening, when I opened the mail from the election board and found a disk that not only contained the information about who was rejected and who was certified along with their addresses, 54,971 names and addresses arranged by counties in alphabetical order.
I just realized that there is no longer an issue of what CASA is going to do if they get the names and addresses of all those who signed petitions, CASA, who also received the disk, already has the information on all those who signed the petition.
I have heard from dozens of people this last weekend who had two concerns:
“Do I have to worry about someone calling to harass me about signing the petition?” and
“How do I find out if my name is one of the more than 7,000 that was rejected and why it was rejected?”
It is my opinion that the actions of CASA to date would give petition signers legitimate reason to be concerned about what CASA may do with the lists of names. We know that CASA has been posting phone numbers to call if you see people out exercising their Constitutional duties per Article 16 of the State Constitution, collection signatures. CASA would then send people out to the location to intimidate and harass people coming to sign as well as those collecting signatures.
This weekend we also learned that CASA is hiring people through a group called “Field Works”. Young college students are being paid $12 per hour to go to the location of people collecting signatures and to shadow them, if they move they are to move along with them. They are handing out fliers entitled “ Think before you ink” which spew half truths and lies meant to suppress people’s willingness to sign the petitions. How is this not voter suppression? You have to be a voter to sign the petition and you have to get enough signatures to get the question on the ballot. I understand it is not a vote, but signing a petition is clearly a constitutionally protected part of the election process and those signing deserve protection from interference from outside forces. The bottom of the flyers being handed out has an authority line which lists, “One Maryland Defense Campaign” and gives and address of 8151 15th Street, Hyattsville, Md. If you look up CASA de Maryland on line and click on the contact button, you will be directed to the same address. Clearly CASA is already taking an aggressive, over the top, approach to stopping the will of the people to put this question on the ballot for the citizens to vote on at the next election.
Read more here.