The Baltimore City Green Party endorses the Ballot Petition Modernization Act, introduced as HB 1112 in the 2023 Maryland General Assembly session. The bill makes several reforms to the petition process by which Maryland voters place referendums on state ballots, establish new political parties and support independent candidates for public office. The petition process is also used for Baltimore City Charter amendments.
The Maryland Green Party is regularly required to use paper forms to collect petition signatures to maintain its ballot access and ability to run candidates for office. In 2020, the Green and Libertarian Parties were able to utilize electronic signatures after a federal lawsuit settlement.
“Signing a petition to put a person, a party, or a policy on the ballot is a right that comes with registering to vote," said Andy Ellis, Chair of the Baltimore City Green Party. "It is time to honor that right and bring the process into the 21st century. Democracy works better when it is easy for voters to exercise their rights. This legislation addresses critical problems with the current process and protects petitioners and petition signers."
The Green Party platform calls for the rights to ballot initiatives and referendums at all levels of government and signature gathering standards that empower grassroots collection efforts.
The Ballot Petition Modernization Act would enable regular use of electronic signatures. It would protect petition signers' rights by establishing reasonable standards for signature verification, removing criminal penalties for duplicate signatures, and allowing signers whose signatures are rejected to "cure" their signatures. The bill also protects parties, independent candidates and referendum and charter amendment organizers by clarifying the review process for rejected petitions.
In 2022 a charter amendment organized by the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition was rejected by the Baltimore City Board of Elections in a manner that a Circuit Court judge expressed serious misgivings about due to the opaqueness of the process the local Board of Elections used to review the petition. HB 1112 would remedy many of the processes used by local Boards of Elections.